How political columnist Patricia Murphy presses on

Willie Nelson said his heroes have always been cowboys. Mine were always columnists.

Growing up in Atlanta, that meant Celestine Sibley and Lewis Grizzard. When I moved to Washington and then New York, that list expanded to Kathleen Parker, Peggy Noonan, Molly Ivins and Jimmy Breslin. In their own styles – muckrakers, satirists and stylists – they wrote columns you did not want to put down, especially the columns about politics.

My early interest in politics led to an early start in the business, working for three U.S. senators on Capitol Hill.

I saw then how Georgia and the South were changing and how Washington impacted nearly everything back home. I learned how laws were written and decisions were made and how personalities, relationships and individual experiences of lawmakers matter more than most people appreciate.

I also developed a strong faith that no matter how divisive and petty politics may seem, it requires our attention because it is what holds our country and our communities together.

I went on to become a journalist because I believe people’s stories can change policy and that voters deserve to know why, how and whether their representatives are working for them.

I’ve covered presidential campaigns and Speakers of the House, rallies in rodeo halls and minutiae of financial disclosures – anything and everything to find out what voters need to know to make decisions for themselves and their families.

While The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s incredible politics team pushes out the “what” of Georgia politics, I try to use the Political Insider column to offer the “who,” the “why” and the “what’s next.”

My opinions lean skeptical, but never cynical, and push for accountability to our readers over any party.

I should add that the last, and most important, newspaper columnist in my hall of heroes is my mother, who worked as an education columnist for both The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution before I was born. Like so many in and around Atlanta, she and my father moved here from elsewhere to build their careers and raise their families.

She got $12 per column “and I got to be on the front page with Ralph McGill,” she told me.

Thanks to the subscribers of the Journal and Constitution, the papers were able to establish themselves then as the leading voices in the South as the region grew and evolved.

Thanks to you, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution continues to build on that legacy, expand its impact, and connect our diverse communities as one.

Please support the work of your journalists. Start a subscription today. If you’re already a subscriber, thank you. With your support, we can keep you informed with real, fact-based news. It’s worth knowing what’s really going on.

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