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Category: journalism

Automotive journalism pioneer David E. Davis Jr. dies at 80

David E. Davis Jr., the founder of Automobile Magazine, who is considered a pioneer in automotive journalism, died Sunday at an Ann Arbor, Mich., hospital of complications from bladder cancer surgery. He was 80.

Called the dean of automotive journalism by Time magazine, Davis split from rival Car and Driver to start Automobile in 1985 with financial backing from media mogul Rupert Murdoch. He had been editor of Car and Driver twice, moving its operations from New York to Ann Arbor.

Davis changed the auto magazine business when he started Automobile with thick paper stock and full-color photography, according to the magazine.

"These magazines were not supposed to be trade journals," said Joe DeMatio, deputy editor of Automobile Magazine. "They were celebrations of the automobile, but with a keen awareness of the industry.

"He was very opinionated and did not hesitate to ruffle feathers, even if they were those of his own bosses."

Ford Motor Co. Executive Vice President Mark Fields said Monday in a statement that Davis' opinions as a journalist were respected.

"His deep knowledge of the automobile business was matched only by his ability to tell engaging stories," Fields said.

Davis attended Michigan's Olivet College and later sold Volkswagens and men's clothing. He also spent time on an auto assembly line, DeMatio wrote Sunday on the magazine's website.

--Associated Press



Chester Kahapea, symbol of Hawaiian statehood, dies at 65


Chester Kahapea, who became inextricably linked to Hawaii's 1959 statehood as a grinning newsboy in an iconic photo, has died. He was 65.

The former newsboy died March 4 at a Honolulu hospital from complications caused by Lou Gehrig's disease, his son Christopher told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

In 1959, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin ran a picture of Kahapea smiling and holding a newspaper with the headline, "Statehood." The picture went on to be used in numerous publications, including The Times.

-- Associated Press

Photo: Chester Kahapea in 1959. Credit: Associated Press / The Star-Bulletin, Albert Yamauchi

David Broder, Pulitzer Prize-winning political writer for the Washington Post, dies at 81 [updated]

Broder David Broder, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post political columnist whose evenhanded treatment of Democrats and Republicans set him apart from the ideological warriors on the nation's op-ed pages, died Wednesday. He was 81.

Post officials said Broder died of complications from diabetes.

Broder, an Illinois native, was familiar to television viewers as a frequent panelist on NBC's "Meet the Press" program. He appeared on the program more than 400 times, far more than any other journalist in the show's history.

To newspaper readers, he was one of the nation's most prominent syndicated columnists. A September 2007 study by the liberal media watchdog group Media Matters found that Broder was second among columnists only to George Will in the combined circulation of newspapers in which his column appeared.

He was the only one of the top five that the group did not label as either conservative or liberal.

"His evenhanded approach has never wavered. He'd make a good umpire," wrote Alan Shear, editorial director of the Washington Post Writers Group, which syndicated Broder's column. "Dave is neither left nor right, and can't even be called reliably centrist. He reports exhaustively and his conclusions are grounded in hard facts."

One of his hallmarks was a special effort to meet lots of average citizens who, in the end, really decide elections. In a 1991 lecture, Broder said reporters should spend "a lot of time with voters ... walking precincts, knocking on doors, talking to people in their living rooms. If we really got clearly in our heads what it is voters are concerned about, it might be possible to let their agenda drive our agenda."

The full Times obituary is here.

-- Associated Press

Photo: David Broder on "Meet the Press" in 2008. Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images for "Meet the Press"

'Meet the Press' host Bill Monroe dies at 90


Bill Monroe, 90, who hosted the long-running Washington political television show "Meet the Press" for nearly a decade, died Thursday at a Washington-area nursing home.

Monroe was the NBC show's fourth moderator, from 1975 to 1984, and interviewed prominent political figures including President Jimmy Carter and U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Tim Russert, the best known host of "Meet the Press," assumed the host's chair in 1991 after a series of short stints by others after Monroe's departure.

Monroe's daughter, Lee Monroe, said her father had taken a fall in December that put him in a nursing home and he had not been well since.

Bill Monroe was born in New Orleans on July 17, 1920. He graduated from Tulane University, served in World War II and later began his career in television journalism at the New Orleans NBC affiliate, WDSU.

In 1961 he moved to Washington, where he became NBC's bureau chief. He worked on the "Today Show," winning the Peabody Award in 1972, and succeeded Lawrence Spivak as host of "Meet the Press" in 1975.

On his first day as the show's permanent moderator he interviewed Gov. George Wallace of Alabama, the staunch segregationist who was at the time running for president.

"Have you personally changed your views about segregation?" Monroe asked.

When Wallace didn't respond directly, Monroe cut him off and repeated the question. Wallace began to stumble through his next response, and Monroe asked a third time: "Have your views changed?"

Wallace finally claimed that race relations were better in Alabama than other parts of the country.

Marvin Kalb, who with Roger Mudd co-hosted "Meet the Press" after Monroe left, called him a "consummate interviewer" and a "gracious host."

"I think fairness was the word that would best describe him as host," Kalb said.

Monroe talked about his career in an interview for the Archive of American Television seen in the YouTube clip above. Listen to the entire interview here.

-- Associated Press



Year-end obituary review by writers from the Washington Post and the Economist magazine

Charlie Another December day, another look back at news obituaries in 2010. Today we have a radio segment that aired Monday on WAMU-FM, American University's public radio station in Washington. Host Kojo Nnamdi, whose show aims to "connect your neighborhood with the world," interviewed Washington Post obit writer Matt Schudel and Economist obituaries editor Ann Wroe about stories that stood out for them in the last year.

Schudel starts off by discussing former pro basketball star Manute Bol and his ties to the Sudan, and then explains how all obit writers approach their assignments:

We're looking for the things that really make someone human. It's not just that we want to record the big events in a person's life, whether the person was a movie star, appeared in movies or on television or in case of a congressman, passed a bunch of laws. We're looking for the things that kind of set a person apart, that show both the extraordinary qualities and sometimes the foibles and the problematic character issues that you might say can sometimes lead to the downfall of a significant figure.

Ann Wroe had a memorable account of the life of Texas Rep. Charlie Wilson, a colorful character who died in February. She reads from the Wilson obituary she wrote:

He was Texas loud, 6'7" in his cowboy boots with bright suspenders, a rowdy laugh and a rugged western face. Other people in Washington might go around looking like constipated hound dogs, but he was having fun and sharing it. Partying and junketing first class all over the country on the federal dime. The apogee came in 1980 in a hot tub at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas with two strippers, naked but for their high-heeled shoes, each equipped with 10 red fingernails filled with beautiful white powder which they wafted onto his nose.

The Feds later spent a million bucks investigating whether he had inhaled it. He wasn't telling. He reviewed, however, that he wore a robe, at first, because he was, after all, a congressman.

Here's the story the Times ran on Wilson by reporter James Oliphant.

You can listen to the entire program at the WAMU website or read a transcript. The Post has more at its obit blog, Post Mortem.

 And here is the Times' picture gallery of notable figures who died in 2010.

-- Claire Noland

Photo: Charlie Wilson in 1988. Credit: Associated Press

Dear Abby debate over ex-spouses as survivors

Today’s “Dear Abby” explores a hot-button issue for families as well as obit writers -- whether former spouses of the deceased should be listed as survivors.

One letter writer (a former copy editor, naturally) makes a point that many callers to the news obituary department fail to understand: “A death notice is a paid announcement. … An obituary is an objective news story written by a bylined reporter.”

The subtext: If you want to control the contents of the obituary, place a death notice. (And no, you can’t read my story before it is printed “to make sure I get everything right.” If I had a nickel for every time I said, “You’ll just have to trust me, I do this for a living,” I’d be able to throw one heck of a Dia de los Muertos celebration.)

But back to the battle over the exes: Readers tweaked dear Abigail Van Buren for concluding that ex-spouses are “usually not mentioned in the obituary.” They argued that obituaries are “historical documents” and that it’s important to mention a former wife, for instance, when she was the mother of the children.

One letter writer says that she and her ex have agreed that any obituary concerning either of them will read: “Also survived by the mother/father of his/her children.”

Another writer suggests “It is the right of the surviving family to decide the contents of the obituary.” (See “subtext,” above.)

In our department, we don’t have an official policy regarding mentioning former spouses in the body of the story. Often, exes are not listed by name unless the couple had children together, and even then we might just make it clear that the offspring were from “a first marriage.” It really is decided case by case. Our only obligation is to tell the tale of the subject of our story.

Regardless, a former spouse is never listed as a survivor in a Times news obituary.

-- Valerie J. Nelson

One year ago: Roy DeCarava

Decavera Roy DeCarava, an art photographer and photojournalist, was famous for his powerful, everyday-life shots of African Americans living in Harlem. He died one year ago at age 89.

DeCarava captured spontaneous moments using a small, 35-millimeter camera that allowed him freedom to roam. He was well-known for his candid shots of musicians -- many of them taken in smoky clubs using only available light. Shadow and darkness became hallmarks of DeCarava's style.

DeCarava's first major exhibit was at the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego in 1986. Ten years later, he was the subject of a one-man exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

"Roy was one of the all-time great photographers," Arthur Ollman, founding director of the San Diego museum, said in 2005. "His photographs provided a vision of African American life that members of the white fine art photography establishment could not have accessed on their own."

While art photography was his passion, DeCarava often earned his living as a freelance photojournalist. He shot for media outlets such as Newsweek, Life and Sports Illustrated throughout his career. Also, in the 1960s, he began teaching, first at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York, and at Hunter College starting in 1975.

For more on the photographer who shook up the mid-20th century art establishment, read Roy DeCarava's obituary by The Times, and see a photo gallery of his work.

-- Michael Farr

Photo: Roy DeCarava in 1996. Credit: Mitsu Yasukawa / For The Times

One year ago: Jack Nelson

Jack-nelson Jack Nelson was a Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times reporter and Washington, D.C., bureau chief who helped establish the paper's national reputation in the 1960s and '70s.

Nelson broke major stories on the civil rights movement for The Times, particularly in his coverage of the shooting of civil rights worker Viola Liuzzo and the slaying of three black students in South Carolina in what is known as the Orangeburg Massacre.

He also scored an enviable scoop in the Watergate scandal with his interview of an ex-FBI agent who witnessed the break-in at the Democratic National Committee's headquarters. The stories resulting from Nelson's interview were the first to link the burglary "right to the heart of the Nixon reelection campaign," David Halberstam wrote in his 1979 media history, “The Powers That Be.”

Nelson became The Times' Washinton bureau chief in 1975, and for 20 years he oversaw its development into what Gene Roberts Jr., former managing editor of the New York Times, called "arguably one of the finest bureaus ever in Washington."

Nelson had made a noteworthy career for himself before even arriving at The Times. At wht was then the Atlanta Constitution, he exposed in a series of articles an array of abuses at a mental institution. As a result of his reporting, the hospital was overhauled and Nelson won a Pulitzer Prize for local reporting in 1960.

In addition to reporting, Nelson wrote or co-wrote several books and was a regular commentator on public television's "Washington Week in Review."

Read more about the award-winning reporter in Jack Nelson's obituary by The Times. Also, see a video of some of his appearances on "Washington Week in Review."

-- Michael Farr

Photo: Jack Nelson. Credit: Los Angeles Times

Micky Burn, World War II commando and writer, dies at 97

Micky Burn, a British journalist, novelist and World War II commando who flirted with fascism, embraced communism and helped save the life of Audrey Hepburn, has died. He was 97.

Burn died Sept. 3 at his home near Porthmadog in northern Wales after suffering a stroke, his friend James Dorrian said Monday.

Capt. Michael Burn took part in one of the war's most daring raids, an amphibious assault on the French port of St. Nazaire, code-named Operation Chariot, in March 1942. The plan was for commandos to ram a destroyer into the dock and then blow the ship up, while troops stormed ashore to destroy German installations.

The raid was a success and a great morale booster for Britain, but losses were heavy -- of the 28 men under Burn's command, 14 were killed. Burn was wounded but fought on until he was captured by German troops. Newsreel footage showed him flashing the “V for victory” sign as he was led away. After the war, he was awarded the Military Cross for his actions during the raid.

Burn was especially proud of his role fighting Nazi Germany because as a youth -- and, he later said, “to my eternal shame” -- he had flirted with fascism.

Visiting Germany as a young journalist in the mid-1930s, he met Hitler through his friend Unity Mitford, the Nazi-sympathizing daughter of an aristocratic English clan, and attended a Nazi rally at Nuremberg. He later recalled with embarrassment how he had greeted Hitler with a Nazi salute and told him, in German, that he was very popular among English youth. Hitler gave him a signed copy of “Mein Kampf.”

“He was extremely ashamed of his own role and the degree to which he had been taken in,” said Dorrian, who is completing a documentary film about Burn's life. “He thought Hitler was doing a good job getting rid of unemployment in Germany and giving, in his own words, Germany back its soul.”

Burn was born into privilege in 1912, the son of a royal official, and educated at private Winchester College. He won a scholarship to Oxford University but dropped out after a year to travel around Europe -- staying with assorted high-society figures including Alice Keppel, former mistress of King Edward VII -- before becoming a journalist.

Strikingly good-looking, he attracted both male and female admirers. His lovers in the 1930s included Guy Burgess, a left-wing British intelligence officer later revealed as a Soviet spy.

“Guy was the catalyst, the man who drew him away from fascism toward communism,” Dorrian said.
“We suspect Micky was being groomed by him” as a Russian agent, Dorrian said. “I think the war intervened just in time.”

Increasingly aware of the dark side of Nazism, Burn enlisted in the army reserve in 1937 while working as a journalist for the Times newspaper, and after war broke out in 1939, he joined a commando unit.

After his capture at St. Nazaire, Burn was sent to the prisoner-of-war camp at Colditz Castle in Germany, where he was one of a small team operating a secret radio. Burns would listen to BBC news reports, taking down he details in shorthand, then brief the other prisoners.

While in captivity, he also studied for an Oxford degree and wrote a novel, published in 1946 as “Yes, Farewell.”

“It was a pivotal moment in his life,” Dorrian said. “Before that it was all castles and villas and posh people. Then he was sent to Colditz and had time to reflect.”

At Colditz, Burn received a Red Cross parcel after an acquaintance, Ella van Heemstra, recognized him from newsreel footage of his capture. After his release, Burn returned the favor by sending food parcels to Van Heemstra in Holland, where she and her daughter, Audrey Hepburn, were malnourished, reduced like many Dutch people to making flour from tulip bulbs. He also sent cigarettes, which Van Heemstra sold on the black market for penicillin to treat the seriously ill Hepburn.

After the war, Burn reported for the Times from Eastern Europe before moving to Wales, where he put his socialist principles into practice by running a mussel-farming cooperative -- it was a financial disaster -- and wrote novels, nonfiction books, poetry and an autobiography, “Turned Toward the Sun.”

Dorrian said that Burn rejected orthodox communism but kept his left-wing views to the end. Of all his achievements, he was proudest of his poetry.

In 1947, Burn married Mary Booker, who died in 1974.

-- Associated Press

One year ago: Army Archerd



Army Archerd had a Rolodex of Hollywood contacts that would be the envy of any entertainment reporter. The so-called "town crier of Hollywood" who made his name as a columnist at Daily Variety died one year ago.

Archerd wrote well over 10,000 columns for Variety and was considered the most trusted journalist in Hollywood. He retired his "Just for Variety" column on Sept. 1, 2005, after more than 50 years of writing it.

Stars often would not speak to anyone but him. When Johnny Carson celebrated his 25th year with NBC in 1987, the "Tonight Show" host left a message for his publicist: "I'm not doing any interviews, because if I do one, I'll have to do them all. But if Army calls, I'll speak to him."

Archerd's biggest scoop was in 1985 when he announced that actor Rock Hudson was suffering from AIDS. The actor became the first major Hollywood figure to be linked to the disease.

Archerd could name among his friends top stars and figures in the industry, but he was intentional about not being too close to the crowd he covered.

"I don't burn out because I'm not part of the scene, I'm looking at the scene," he told The Times in 1996. "I don't get involved like some unnamed people who cover this business."

The columnist became such an integral part of the daily ritual of Hollywood that when a bout of flu in 1983 forced him to miss work for the first time in 30 years, the Associated Press reported that "consternation and confusion reigned when the column failed to appear for three days."

Besides his work as a columnist, Archerd was, for 47 years, the official greeter at the Oscars, interviewing nominees and stars as they made their way across the red carpet.

For more on the famed Hollywood reporter, read Army Archerd's obituary by The Times.

--Michael Farr

Photo: Army Archerd. Credit: Los Angeles Times

One year ago: John Elson

Elson The question sparked magazine sales, reader comments and controversy.

John T. Elson wrote a memorable 1966 cover story for Time magazine called "Is God Dead?" The issue broke records for newsstand sales.

"The story brought a brimstone of controversy, but given the depth of the reporting, few could argue that the writer had not done his homework," Jim Kelly, former Time managing editor, wrote after Elson's death a year ago at age 78.

Elson, a prolific editor and writer during four decades with the magazine, was religion editor when he wrote the controversial essay. Elson read 40 books and drew on interviews with more than 300 people -- ranging from Simone de Beauvoir and Billy Graham to a Greek janitor and an Israeli streetwalker -- conducted by 32 Time correspondents.

"He was writing it on a very serious level. People took it on a very emotional level," Rosemary Elson, his wife, told The Times' Elaine Woo. "If you read the last paragraph, you would know what his opinion was. He certainly believed, but he was always questioning."

Read more about Elson is The Times' obituary.

--Keith Thursby

Photo: John Elson and his wife, Rosemary.

Remembering Paul Conrad

Conrad Los Angeles Times columnist Tim Rutten pays tribute to The Times' legendary political cartoonist Paul Conrad, who died Saturday at 86.

"Outrage informed his journalism and animated his art," writes Rutten in Monday's Times. "He woke up each morning angry about some new injustice and allowed sleep to overtake him each night only so that he could get up mad the next day and do it all over again."

You can read Rutten's piece here and James Rainey's news obituary here.

-- Keith Thursby

Photo: Paul Conrad at his home in 2006. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times


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