Former publisher of Whiteville paper dies at age 85
James Charles High, 85, long-time publisher of The News Reporter in Whiteville, N.C., died Wednesday, Jan. 2, at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte after a brief illness. His son, Les High, is the current publisher of The News Reporter and a member of the SNPA Foundation Board of Trustees.
Jim High was born Jan. 27, 1933, the son of Lonnie Haynes "Boy" High Jr., and Ferrell Moore High. He attended Hallsboro High School and graduated from Bob Jones Academy in Greenville, S.C
He attended N.C. State for two years, enlisted in the Army for two years, then graduated with a BS in business from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1959.
The News Reporter became one of the most respected community newspapers in the state under his guidance. He had worked for only a few weeks at The News Reporter when his father-in-law and publisher, Leslie S. Thompson, died suddenly, thrusting the 25-year-old into the role of general manager and publisher.
In the next 61 years of his career, he moved The News Reporter and its office supply division from its small storefront in downtown Whiteville to new facilities on West Columbus Street, adding on to the building twice.
In the newspaper business, High was a renaissance man. The News Reporter was one of the first two newspapers in the state to move to offset printing, which revolutionized the look and appearance of newsprint. It was a bold move that required significant investment and risk, but it allowed The News Reporter to expand its operation to print more than 10 newspapers in North and South Carolina. Soon, The News Reporter employed more than 50 people.
He later added color capabilities and embraced the change to websites and digital media.
Over the course of his career, The News Reporter won hundreds of state and national awards, but it was his philanthropy, civic involvement and care for others that made him an iconic figure to many.