Veteran Georgia journalist and political commentator Bill Shipp dies at 89
Veteran Georgia journalist and political commentator Bill Shipp who spent more than five decades covering Georgia’s government and politics has died at 89. Shipp was well known and respected across the political landscape for his work documenting history in Georgia politics.
Shipp wrote about some of the most important events in Georgia’s history and the nation including the civil rights movement, the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., the rise of Jimmy Carter, and the Republican revolution.
Both Democrats and Republicans alike felt the elbows of Shipp when he wrote about the goings on in Georgia politics, which many say earned him friends, enemies, and frenemies through the years.
Governor Roy Barnes commented on Shipp’s passing saying, “I will tell you that before there was such a thing as Google that Bill Shipp was the Google of Georgia politics and its institutions. He knew everything about everybody.” Barnes went on to describe Shipp as fearless saying, “He would take the hide off my back every once in a while. I’d call him up and say, ‘That was rough this morning,’ and he would laugh and say, ‘Well, you were wrong.’”
Shipp was born in Cobb County and attended the University of Georgia. He first gained publicity as an editor of the University of Georgia’s student newspaper, The Red and Black, when he criticized the university system for blocking the admission of a Black applicant to the university’s law school. Shipp showed bravery and a conviction that stayed with him throughout his career as a journalist.
In 1953, Shipp, the 20-year-old managing editor of the UGA campus newspaper, The Red & Black, urged the university’s segregated law school to admit Horace Ward, a Black applicant. Ward chose a different law school and went on to become the first Black federal judge in Georgia. Shipp was fired from The Red & Black for advocating integration and encouraged to leave UGA by the President of the college.
Shipp left and joined the U.S. Army, where he served in Germany. He returned to Atlanta as a married man and went to work at the Atlanta Constitution in 1956. Ship worked his way up the ladder and devoted himself to the political beat. He continued with the paper when it changed its name to the AJC.
Shipp later left the AJC to start his own political newsletter known as Bill Shipp’s Georgia, which many consider to be one of the earliest online political news sites. Shipp also spent a decade as a panelist on the Georgia Gang, the televised public affairs program on FOX 5.
He was known for mixing it up with the program’s host, the late Dick Williams, who was also a veteran of the Atlanta Constitution. No one was off limits as Shipp wrote about Barnes and former Governors Jimmy Carter, George Busbee, Zell Miller, and Sonny Perdue, as well as others in the political world in Georgia and across the country.
Bill often commented that his most proudest accomplishment was his family. Bill was preceded in death by wife Renate Shipp and son Ernest. He is survived by two daughters, Edie Miles and husband Ron, and Michelle Davidson and husband Mitchell, as well as a host of grandchildren and great grandchildren.