‘One in a million’ Glenn McCutchen, former editor of AJC, dies

Glenn McCutchen was a journalist with Cox Enterprises for 42 years, including roles as executive editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and publisher of Cox Texas newspapers, the Nacogdoches Daily Sentinel, Lufkin Daily News and Longview News-Journal.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Glenn McCutchen was a journalist with Cox Enterprises for 42 years, including roles as executive editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and publisher of Cox Texas newspapers, the Nacogdoches Daily Sentinel, Lufkin Daily News and Longview News-Journal.

Glenn McCutchen, an avid NASCAR fan, gifted storyteller and former editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, has died.

According to his obituary, he died on April 5 in Portland, Ore. after a brief battle with cancer. He was 80.

In 1966, after a brief stint at the Ledger-Enquirer in Columbus, he started reporting at The Atlanta Constitution, which for more than a century was Atlanta’s morning newspaper. In 1985, he became the managing editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In 1989, he ascended to executive editor of The AJC.

McCutchen, born and raised in Columbus, was known for his soft-spoken Southern drawl, kindness and strength in character, according to many remembrances of him posted online Sunday. He also helped drive diversity in the newsroom.

Richard Halicks, a long-time editor who retired in 2018 after 36 years at The AJC, called McCutchen “one in a million.”

In a Facebook post, Halicks recalled the breakneck pace at the newspaper “back in the day.”

“I remember, when things were going to hell all around us, which was pretty much every day, Glenn would just get cooler and cooler. The most chill human being I’d ever seen. He never raised his voice (unless it was to laugh) but he asserted such authority, with such confidence. My 23-year-old self would just sit there and watch him and wonder whether I could ever be that good,” Halicks said in the post.

“He was a great newsman, a wonderful boss and, in time, a very good friend. I miss you, Glenn Mc,” he added.

After moving to Texas in 1990 to become editor and publisher of The Daily Sentinel in Nacogdoches, McCutchen didn’t back down when under pressure to pull the comic strip “For Better or For Worse” when it introduced a gay character in 1993.

He also helped many people get their start in journalism. And in the case of Jack Stallard, now the sports editor of the Longview News-Journal in Texas, he gave a second chance back in the mid-1990s. At the time, Stallard was the sports editor at the Lufkin Daily News in Texas. McCutchen was the publisher.

In a column published Sunday morning, Stallard said he never got around to asking McCutchen why he didn’t fire him for making a “boneheaded” decision to write a column urging readers to attend a Sunday baseball game the local junior college was hosting against the No. 1 ranked team in the nation.

The problem: Stallard made other plans for that Sunday, and when the coach — for the only time in the six seasons Stallard covered his team — didn’t report the score from that game, there was no information in the Monday newspaper. Readers were left hanging.

Stallard managed to keep his job. And McCutchen would soon sign off on Stallard being one of 80 “loaners” from Cox Enterprises newspapers around the country dispatched to Atlanta to help The AJC with its coverage of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games.

“When I returned to Lufkin, he called me into his office and showed me a letter he had gotten from one of the top guys in Atlanta bragging about the work I had done there,” said Stallard in the column. “Then, he pointed at me and said, ‘You’ve always loved all of the things that came with being a sports editor at a daily newspaper, but now you know what it means to love newspapers and journalism. Don’t ever forget that.’”

“Thanks for seeing something in me and letting me stick around long enough to see it for myself,” he said in the column.

Gary Borders, former publisher of Longview News-Journal, recalled meeting McCutchen for lunch in 1990, when McCutchen had moved from Atlanta to East Texas to become to become editor and publisher of The Daily Sentinel. Borders was offered the managing editor job. In his blog, “Borderline,” at garyborders.com/ Borders says they shook hands and McCutchen said this:

‘There are 1,438 managing editors of daily newspapers in the United States. (I don’t actually remember the number he used, but that’s close.) That is a small club. Don’t screw this up,’ he said with a smile. But I knew he meant it. Glenn cared fiercely about honest, unbiased journalism. The good news is that I did as well.”

After graduating from Columbus High School in 1961, McCutchen enrolled in Oklahoma Baptist University to study photojournalism on a work scholarship. On March 7, 1965, during his junior year, he watched television coverage of the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. According to his obit, he and two other OBU students decided to leave campus immediately and join a second march. While he ran out of money and didn’t make it, he was deeply impacted by the experience.

“McCutchen was inspired by Ralph McGill, the civil rights-crusading editor of the Constitution, who showed that journalists could make a difference and enact positive change on the issues that matter most,” his obit states.

In 2022, McCutchen moved to Portland to be closer to two of his children, Warren and Sara, and his only grandchild, Kei. He joined Westminster Presbyterian Church, continuing his lifelong habit of finding a church family wherever he lived.

View the obituary on Legacy.com