Remembering Journalists We Lost
As 2009 comes to an end, the Newseum recognizes notable men and women who passed away this year and whose contributions to journalism will not be forgotten.
Leonore Annenberg (1918-2009)
Since 2002, Leonore Annenberg had been president and chairman of the Annenberg Foundation, a private foundation established in 1989 by her late husband, philanthropist and publisher Walter Annenberg, to advance the public well-being through improved communication. She was chief of protocol for the United States during Ronald Reagan’s presidency, a position she told The New York Times was the “first paying job I ever had.” Annenberg was an early supporter of the Newseum and one of its founding partners.
Army Archerd (1922-2009)
For more than 50 years, Army Archerd kept tabs on Hollywood’s A-list through his influential column in Variety magazine. His reputation for accuracy — separating fact from rumor — was well-known. In 1985, he was the first to report that actor Rock Hudson had AIDS. His source for the news of actor Warren Beatty’s marriage in 1992 to actress Annette Bening came from Beatty himself. Archerd was one of the first journalists to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
James Bellows (1922-2009)
Veteran editor James Bellows, who believed a newspaper’s job was to “print the news and raise hell,” had a special knack and well-known reputation for taking second-string big-city newspapers and turning them into must-reads. With stints in Atlanta, Detroit, Miami, New York and Los Angeles, his résumé was considered one of the longest in journalism. In 1981, Bellows became the first managing editor of “Entertainment Tonight,” a new type of television program that gave rise to the term “infotainment.”
Fleur Cowles (1908-2009)
Fashion editor Fleur Cowles went out on a limb in 1950 to found her own general-interest magazine, Flair. Its innovative layouts and fast-paced copy caused an immediate sensation. Although financial problems forced Flair to close a year later, Cowles made her point. The short-lived publication was “proof a magazine need no longer be stolidly frozen to the familiar format.”
Walter Cronkite (1916-2009)
In an age when viewers now turn to TV comedy shows for “fake” news, Walter Cronkite was the real deal. The CBS News icon, called the “most trusted man in America,” shepherded the nation through President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, the moon landing, the civil rights struggle and Vietnam. When “Uncle Walter” signed off his reports with “And that’s the way it is,” Americans unquestionably believed it was.
Dominick Dunne (1925-2009)
Dominick Dunne wrote two best-selling novels about high-society murders before he began chronicling real ones for Vanity Fair magazine. He covered the murder trials of Claus von Bulow and the Menendez brothers but was best known for chronicling the 16-month O.J. Simpson trial. The inescapable quality of the reporting prompted Dunne to write an article titled “All O.J., All the Time.”
Paul Harvey (1918-2009)
Legendary broadcaster Paul Harvey was probably heard by more listeners than anyone in radio history. His homespun, 15-minute morning and noon shows on ABC Radio reached 18 million listeners a day. Harvey’s career began when he was 14 and lasted more than 70 years. His conservative viewpoint was his trademark. “I have never pretended to objectivity,” he said.
Don Hewitt (1922-2009)
CBS News producer Don Hewitt was an innovator in television news. He directed the first televised presidential debates in 1960, but the show he was most proud of and to which he will be forever linked is “60 Minutes.” The program he created in 1968 is the most successful and most imitated newsmagazine in television history. “I am … keenly aware that “60 Minutes” works because fate bestowed on me the most talented men and women in the broadcast news business,” he said.
Irving R. Levine (1922-2009)
When it came to explaining the world economy to television viewers, NBC News veteran Irving R. Levine was in a league of his own. With his crisp diction, trademark bow ties, professorial bearing and a sign-off that included his full name, Levine made financial news understandable to average Americans. When an NBC producer suggested he shorten a news story by dropping his middle initial, Levine declined. “I’d rather drop the ‘B’ in NBC,” he said.
Reinhard Mohn (1921-2009)
From the town of Gütersloh in northern Germany, Reinhard Mohn built Bertelsmann AG from a modest-sized publisher of hymnals into one of the world’s largest media conglomerates. Bertelsmann’s holdings include Random House, the world’s largest book publisher; Gruner + Jahr, Europe’s leading magazine publisher; the Book-of-the-Month Club; and RTL, Europe’s largest commercial broadcast network. Mohn’s motto: “You have to persuade people.”
Jack Nelson (1929-2009)
Longtime Los Angeles Times Washington bureau chief Jack Nelson represented a distinguished line of Southern reporters and editors who bravely exposed inequities in the South. The Alabama native won a Pulitzer Prize in 1960 for his series of investigative articles on irregularities at mental institutions in Georgia. “Journalists monitoring the operations of government are only doing what most other citizens would do for themselves if they had the time,” he said.
Robert Novak (1931-2009)
For 45 years, syndicated columnist Robert Novak — dubbed “The Prince of Darkness” by media colleague John J. Lindsay — was a stronghold in political journalism. In 2003, he divulged the identity of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame, a move that was harshly criticized and led to the indictment and conviction of White House official I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby. Novak was unrepentant. “I would do the same thing over again, because I don’t think I hurt Valerie Plame whatsoever,” he said.
Max Page (1949-2009)
As an executive producer and bureau chief for TV stations in Atlanta, Dallas and Washington, D.C., Max Page made an impact behind the scenes. Perhaps the most visible testament to his memory is the Newseum, the interactive museum of news that opened in 2008. During the museum’s building phase, Page headed the day-to-day management of design and construction. For 17 years, he assisted in the management of the Newseum and its staff. He died Sept. 15, his 60th birthday.
Nan Robertson (1926-2009)
In 1955, Nan Robertson began her career at The New York Times in the women’s department writing about fashion and decorating. Working in the Washington bureau in 1963, she described her job as covering “the first lady, her children and their dogs.” But it was two issues affecting women that defined her career. Her coverage of a 1974 class-action sex-discrimination lawsuit at the Times resulted in the book “The Girls in the Balcony,” and she won a Pulitzer Prize for her New York Times Magazine account of her own battle with toxic shock syndrome.
William Safire (1929-2009)
Pulitzer Prize-winner William Safire was part of a trend that blurred the lines between journalism and government. In 1973, he was hired as a columnist by The New York Times, after serving as a speechwriter for President Richard M. Nixon and Vice President Spiro Agnew. Safire wrote the speech in which Agnew called the press “nattering nabobs of negativism.” His love of words earned him a following for his popular “On Language” column in the Times’s Sunday magazine.
Wilbert A. Tatum (1933-2009)
Feisty, provocative and outspoken were words often associated with Wilbert A. Tatum. As publisher and editor-in-chief of the New York Amsterdam News, one of the country’s most influential black newspapers, Tatum fervently battled politicians and policies with which he disagreed. Critics claimed he used the newspaper to stoke racial tension, but Tatum was steadfast. “We’ve been on the cutting edge of everything that’s happened in race relations for 80 years,” he said in 1990. “We’re part of the social fabric.”
Many of these journalists are featured in Newseum galleries and exhibits. They are honored separately from those who were killed in 2009 trying to report the news. For a preliminary list of those journalists, visit the Journalists Memorial.