Honoring One Of Dillon County’s Finest

The Dillon Herald would like to thank Johnnie Daniels for 53 years of service as the General Manager of our publications, having served as the longest serving General Manager in the company’s 130 year history.
Daniels joined the staff of The Dillon Herald on March 12, 1971 at the age of 20, but was actually hired at Herald Office Supply to work their Myrtle Beach territory. On his first day at the Herald Group, A.B. Jordan, III told Daniels he was needed in advertising sales at The Dillon Herald. With Buist Jordan’s approval, Daniels began his tremendous career at the newspaper. Except for occasional oversight and support from the then linotype operator R. E. Bass, Daniels was self-taught in sales and advertising, and took to the industry like a fish in water. Despite his original work week being intended as four days per week, he soon learned it was a true seven day per week commitment.
Daniels flourished at The Dillon Herald and built a career that spanned decades.
During his time at the newspaper, Daniels worked with four generations of the Jordan family and five different editors, including B.S. “Tillie” Tillinghast, R.E. “Bob” Robinson, Jr., Will Jones, Paul Jones, and Betsy Finklea. He also worked with two interim editors, Bob Weirich and Eppie Richbourg.
Daniels learned the value of hard work early in life, being born into a family of 10 children and living on a farm. He used the work ethics he learned growing up and applied them to his work at The Dillon Herald.
It was not unusual for Daniels to arrive at work at 5:00 a.m. and work late into the night, with Saturdays being no exception. He was a true jack-of-all-trades, working on sports stories on one hand and working the property as though it was his own yard on the other. Whether it was selling ads, photographing events, writing stories, washing newspaper bags, or doing building maintenance, Johnnie ran the papers as though they were his own, and dedicated his entire life to The Herald. No task was ever too menial and no request too large if it was for the betterment of the paper. Daniels would never ask anyone to do anything he wouldn’t do himself.
When Daniels started at The Dillon Herald, he introduced new ideas and ads unlike any the paper had run in the past. They quickly caught on, establishing much of the future success of the newspaper.
When The Herald acquired the Fairmont Times-Messenger on April 1, 1977, Daniels was instrumental in keeping the newspaper alive for many more years until it closed its doors on October 4, 2001.
Under Daniels, The Dillon Herald provided Total Market Coverage across the county with the “Mass Mailouts” in the 1970s and 1980s, long before others claimed to do the same. In the 1990s, he started The Dillon County Shopper that is now distributed to households across Dillon County and formerly Rowland, NC.
Daniels has always been one to embrace new ideas, pushing The Dillon Herald to go online with a website in 2010 and later to branch out on social media, both of which have proven instrumental in spreading local news across Dillon County.
After The Dillon Herald lost its sports editor, Daniels took over and has spent many days and nights covering local sports to bring recognition to our youth. In fact, Daniels had been taking sports pictures as early the 1970s, including when Coach Jackie Hayes was a Dillon High School player. He recalls when they played 4A against teams like Summerville, Hartsville, James Island, Conway, South Florence, and others. He said it has been a pleasure to cover sports over the years and to follow local teams across the state. Every school in Dillon County has won a state title during the time he covered sports, and several of the young people he has covered have ultimately played college and professional sports. Countless young people, regardless of skill, have said how much it meant to them to have him on the sidelines cheering them on and taking phenomenal pictures that they can keep for a lifetime.
When the News and Press in Darlington was acquired by The Herald Group, Daniels led the transition at this newspaper.
When the pandemic struck in 2020, Daniels’ ideas for marketing campaigns, in collaboration with Betsy Finklea, were so critical not only to The Herald but newspapers across the country, that an Editor and Publisher magazine article mentioned the campaign in their edition. Daniels and Finklea collaborated daily on numerous projects as well as each newspaper that was produced.
Daniels tirelessly worked selling ads to support the newspaper. Anyone who knows Daniels can concur that regardless of time or place, he was constantly selling, with him even being known to solicit ads as partners rode by in the local Christmas parade. When informed Daniels was on the phone, one customer told The Herald that he would tell his secretary to agree to whatever he asked, knowing Daniels wouldn’t stop calling until he agreed. To Daniels, advertising wasn’t about selling ads to make commission: he cared about his customers and believed the paper was a true partner in their success. He worked to help local merchants grow their businesses by attracting new customers, keeping their name before the public, and highlighting special events and causes throughout the year.
There have been constant changes over the years in both the newspaper industry and our county. In the early days, Daniels processed his own film in The Herald dark room, learning the trade from men like Bob Robinson and Fred Sanders. Today, photography is digital, and photos can be shared in a matter of minutes through social media. Like photography, business in Dillon has changed as well, with many companies and firms coming and going over Daniels’ career. At one time, Main Street was the hub for industry, with many businesses to call, including six new car dealerships in the market. Today, our county maintains an amazing footprint of local businesses, but is bolstered by the Inland Port, growing City and County Governments, large manufacturing plants, and warehousing facilities across the County.
Daniels believes in a true local newspaper, something that has been lost in many parts of the country. He feels local news and advertising are important, stressing that The Dillon Herald tells the story of our community and the significance of writing the history of Dillon County.
A dedicated community servant, Daniels is devoted to Dillon County and has tremendous passion and empathy for those less fortunate, having grown up poor himself. He stands by the fact that the important things in life: love of family and respect for others, are free.
He always works to do things to help others in our area, establishing The Dillon Herald’s Toy and Food Drive, which has helped hundreds in the community over the years.
He founded Help For Veterans, Inc. after his brother Jimmie, a Vietnam veteran who passed away in August 2016, asked him to do something to help other veterans. They have an annual health fair as well as a free meal program, regularly providing food boxes for veterans in need. Amongst many other initiatives, the group also helps veterans with various bills when they can not meet their financial obligations.
With a generous spirit, Daniels does many other things to help individuals in need, including giving money to help those less fortunate. He is not a person who seeks acclaim or recognition for his work for others. He simply wants to help others and get things done.
Daniels would like to thank all his friends and customers, as well as all of those who contributed in any way to make The Dillon Herald the best it can be. The friendships that he has made, the camaraderie with others, and opportunity to serve the public through the newspaper are the things he will miss the most.
The Dillon Herald was honored to have Johnnie Daniels as its General Manager for so many decades, and his time here will be remembered for his hard work, commitment, and strong belief in local news and business. He loved The Dillon Herald and looked forward to each new day and each new challenge presented. He gave his all because he believed the people of Dillon County deserved nothing less. Throughout his career, he represented both The Herald and the citizens of the county admirably, and will forever be remembered amongst the very best of Dillon County.

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