Why journalist Bill Rankin follows the facts wherever they lead


This newspaper has been an enormous part of my life since I was 2. That’s when Dad, Mom and I moved to Atlanta so my father could be a city editor. He worked at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for 26 years before retiring in 1986.

I read the paper (always the sports pages) every day as a boy. I even delivered it on my bicycle around my neighborhood and later in Athens, where I got my political science degree at the University of Georgia.

I like to say I have “ink in my veins,” because The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is part of my DNA. As you can imagine, its integrity and success mean the world to me.

I’ve now worked at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for 32 years. My wife, Carol, whom I met in 10th grade typing class, and I are proud products of the Atlanta public school system.

My beat is courts and legal affairs, and I host The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Breakdown podcast.

I’ve loved doing what I’ve been doing. Covering the justice system, to me, is a calling, not a job.

It’s led me to courthouses across the state, even to the U.S. Supreme Court. I’ve covered some of Georgia’s most sensational trials: the Gold Club, Ray Lewis, Fred Tokars, Justin Ross Harris. Yes, it’s been quite the ride.

As I see it, my mission is to expose disparities that cause unequal treatment under the law, to do all I can to keep those scales of justice on an even keel.

That’s meant driving to clerk’s offices across the state to sift through case files and spending untold hours reading trial transcripts and long-forgotten court records. It has helped me expose discriminatory sentencing and a dysfunctional indigent defense system.

Throughout it all, my primary objectives have never changed: Report the news accurately. Treat everyone fairly. Be objective as possible.

Combining my dad’s service with mine, I calculate that a Rankin was on staff for more than 21,000 daily editions of this paper. And I can promise you: If our name didn’t appear in print on all those days, our love of the AJC was in every turn of the press.

Your subscription supports us, inspires us and keeps this hometown newspaper publishing day after day after day.

And it lets me and my colleagues continue doing what we’re called to do. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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.