Diane H. McFarlin, publisher of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida, took over as president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors on April 12. Joining McFarlin in ASNE’s leadership are Peter K. Bhatia, executive editor, The Oregonian, Portland, Ore., as vice president; Karla Garrett Harshaw, editor, Springfield (Ohio) News-Sun, as secretary; and Rick Rodriguez, executive editor, The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee, as treasurer. Tim J. McGuire, executive editor of the Star Tribune, Minneapolis, ended his term as president, The Associated Press reported.
Daytime talk-show pioneer Phil Donahue is returning to television. In a bid to upgrade its lagging status among the all-news cable channels, MSNBC was expected to sign Donahue to be host of a prime-time discussion program, starting this summer. Donahue, who has been out of television since retiring from his syndicated talk show in 1996, will be host of what MSNBC President Erik Sorenson called “a live issue-oriented talk show” each weekday at 8 p.m. Donahue, 66, will go head to head with cable news talk leader Bill O’Reilly on Fox News. Sorenson said that he expected a “grudge match” between O’Reilly, who is known as a conservative, and Donahue, who is known for his support of liberal causes. Donahue also has sparred with O’Reilly while a guest on his program, according to The New York Times. Meanwhile, CNN has announced that it will insert its own prominent news personality, Connie Chung, at the same hour, leading to a three-way showdown.
USA Today appointed Brian Gallagher, 53, to executive editor, effective June 1. Gallagher replaced Bob Dubill, who is retiring. Gallagher served as editorial page editor for three years and worked on efforts to define USA Today’s long-term objectives, Editor & Publisher reported. He began his career in 1971 with Gannett newspapers in suburban New York and then moved to Gannett News Service in 1980, where he served as managing editor from 1983-1986.
The Pulitzer Prize board has appointed Sig Gissler, former Milwaukee Journal editor, as administrator of journalism’s top honors. Gissler worked at the Journal from 1967 to 1993. He succeeds Seymour Topping, former New York Times managing editor, who had held the post since 1993. The appointment was announced in April by the Pulitzer board and George Rupp, president of Columbia University, which administers the prizes. Gissler has been an associate professor at the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia for eight years, and he founded the Columbia Workshops on Journalism, Race and Ethnicity, according to Editor & Publisher.
Bryant Gumbel has decided to leave his post as anchor of “The Early Show” on CBS, a position he has held for the past two-and-a-half years. Steve Friedman, 55, executive producer of “The Early Show” and a leading figure in the history of morning television, said that he would leave the program, too. CBS executives emphasized that Gumbel was leaving of his own volition, according to The New York Times. But they acknowledged that the program’s ratings have been disappointing. Gumbel joined CBS in 1997 after spending nearly 25 years at NBC, 15 of them as host of NBC’s morning program, “Today.” “The Early Show” is the third-rated morning news program and has not been able to gain ground in the time that Gumbel has anchored the program, The Times reported. Friedman made his reputation in morning television in the 1980s and 1990s as the hard-charging executive producer of “Today,” hiring Gumbel to be co-anchor and later creating its glass studio. CBS has chosen Michael Bass, a former producer for the top-rated “Today” show on NBC, to succeed Friedman.
Texas writer Vanessa Leggett has won the PEN/Newman’s Own First Amendment Award in recognition of the 168 days she spent in the Federal Detention Center in Houston for refusing to reveal her confidential sources to a federal grand jury. Leggett was jailed on July 20, 2001, on a civil contempt charge after she refused to give a federal grand jury her research into the 1997 shooting death of Houston socialite Doris Angleton. The subpoena sought all of her tape-recorded interviews with her sources, including all copies of transcripts, which were compiled over a four-year period. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press nominated Leggett for the award. She received the $25,000 prize April 24 at the PEN American Center’s annual gala in New York City. The awards honor literary figures who have been persecuted for defending free speech. Leggett appealed her case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which decided not to hear the case.
Financial journalist Louis Rukeyser, 69, ousted by PBS after 32 years, has returned to television as host of a new show. “Louis Rukeyser’s Wall Street” debuted at 8:30 p.m. ET on April 19 on cable news financial network CNBC. That’s the same time Rukeyser’s former show aired on PBS, and he will directly compete with the revamped “Wall Street Week” that fired him in March. CNBC also is making Rukeyser’s new show available to any PBS station that wants to rebroadcast it, although it won’t be available on Friday nights, The New York Times reported. Eleven public television stations had committed to airing Rukeyser’s CNBC debut show, including both PBS stations in New York, the country’s largest TV market, according to The Washington Post. Rukeyser’s CNBC show will run without advertising and with underwriter support, the same format used by PBS shows. Rukeyser’s acrimonious exit from PBS began when his producers, Maryland Public Television, said they wanted to make a new version of “Wall Street Week” with partners Fortune magazine and include Rukeyser in a reduced role, The Associated Press reported. On March 22, Rukeyser opened his weekly PBS show by telling viewers that MPT had “ambushed” him and that he would develop a new program, according to the Post. He then urged viewers to call their local PBS station about airing the new show. MPT fired him that weekend and moved up the start date of “Wall Street Week With Fortune” to June 28.
Howell Raines, who has served just nine months as executive editor of The New York Times, has been named Editor of the Year by Editor & Publisher. “Raines did more than drive his own paper to new levels of distinction – he set the bar for the entire industry in the aftermath of Sept. 11,” said Greg Mitchell, editor of Editor & Publisher. An interview with Raines appeared in the April 8 issue of the magazine. For the first time in print, he talked at great length about his personal experience, emotions and inside view of The Times’ operations on and since Sept. 11. The April 8 cover package also included an essay about Raines by Alex S. Jones, co-author of The Trust, the acclaimed history of the Times.
Jane Scott, 83, never has been at a loss for a great rock ‘n’ roll story. Now, after delighting several generations of (Cleveland) Plain Dealer readers with countless firsthand tales about music’s most colorful characters, she is ready to begin a new chapter in her own life – retirement. The legendary rock writer retired April 3 after 50 years at the newspaper and one month before her 83rd birthday. “All of a sudden it dawned on me – what am I trying to prove?” she said. “I just felt maybe it’s about time.” Before she came to the newspaper, Scott was a code breaker for the U.S. Navy during World War II. She later became women’s editor of the Chagrin Valley Herald. She also held positions in advertising and public relations.
Tom Toles, a Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist for The Buffalo (N.Y.) News, has been hired by The Washington Post to take over the role the late Herbert Block held at The Post for a half-century. Toles, 50, is syndicated in 200 newspapers. He has drawn regularly for the New Republic and U.S. News & World Report. Toles, who won a Pulitzer in 1990, depicts his targets with misshapen heads and small bodies. He considers himself a liberal, though he said his views have “been tempered somewhat by experience.” Block, a four-time Pulitzer Prize-winner who drew under the name “Herblock,” died in October at age 91 after working for the paper for 50 years.
Mike Wallace, who turned 84 in May, says that next fall he will severely reduce his involvement with “60 Minutes,” the CBS news magazine that he helped start in 1968. Wallace, the oldest full-time news correspondent in network television, said he would cut his workload in half. The withdrawal of Wallace, the face of the program since it began, is resulting in a slow and deliberate change of leadership at “60 Minutes” – the first in its 34-year history, according to The New York Times. As Wallace is cutting back, CBS News executives are beginning to focus on how to maintain the program as key players get closer to retirement. Commentator Andy Rooney is 83, correspondent Morley Safer is 70, and the creator and executive producer, Don Hewitt, is 79. However, Hewitt said that he did not foresee leaving the program soon. “I’m going to be 80, and I don’t think I’ve missed a step,” he said. “My aim is to die at my desk – I don’t want to die anywhere else.” The show’s correspondents Steve Kroft, 56; Leslie Stahl, 60; and Ed Bradley, 60, are relative youngsters, he said, and they do not seem to be preparing an exit, either. The program has undergone some wear and tear in recent years, The Times reported. Once untouchable within CBS News, it faced production staff cutbacks late last year for the first time in memory. And its record run of 23 years as one of TV’s top-10 rated programs came to an end in 2001 as well. However, “60 Minutes” is the top-rated news magazine on television, and it ranked 16th among all network programs on the Nielsen Media Research ratings list this season with an average audience of 15 million people.
Corbin Wyant, publisher of the Naples (Fla.) Daily News since 1985, is retiring June 30 as a result of The E.W. Scripps Co.’s policy requiring executives to retire at age 65. Under his tenure, the Naples Daily News went from a six-day-a-week afternoon paper to a daily morning publication, The Associated Press reported. In 1989, the newspaper was selected by the American Society of Newspaper Editors as one of the 10 best mid-sized metropolitan newspapers in the United States. Wyant will be replaced by Bob Burdick, 54, who in December 2000 was named executive vice president and general manager of the Naples paper. Previously, Burdick was editor, president and general manager of the Rocky Mountain News in Denver.
Thomas Charles Abbott, a popular religion columnist for Greenwich (Conn.) Time, died April 1 of respiratory failure at Greenwich Hospital. He was 76. Abbott, a former business reporter who had a long career in public relations, also was a member of SPJ. As a reporter, Abbott helped Greenwich Time start its weekly religion page in 1997, writing a twice-monthly column. Before that, Abbott worked as a reporter with the City News Bureau of Chicago and then as a business reporter for the Chicago Tribune from 1951 to 1955, the Greenwich Time reported. During the 1950s and 1960s, Abbott served as president of the New York and Chicago chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists – known as the Deadline Club in New York and the Headline Club in Chicago. He also worked for General Motors in Detroit for 14 years. From 1969 to 1994, Abbott worked as a public relations executive for Xerox Corp., retiring as chief media spokesperson and corporate public relations manager. He was well known for sponsoring a hospitality suite at each SPJ convention during his tenure at Xerox.
Irwin S. Blumenfeld, 93, director of news services for the University of Washington for 26 years, died March 17 in Seattle. Blumenfeld also had owned two weekly newspapers and worked at both Seattle dailies during his journalism career. He grew up in Seattle and was editor of the university newspaper, The Daily. In 1931, a year after graduating with a major in economics and journalism, Blumenfeld bought the Forum of Snohomish County in a foreclosure sale by promising the bank free advertising in the Granite Falls weekly. He later acquired the Sumas News, another weekly, just south of the Canadian border in Whatcom County. Blumenfeld became the first member of the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association to enlist in the military in World War II. He was awarded the Bronze Star for service in Italy. Upon returning, he worked for The Seattle Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer before joining the University of Washington as news director in 1947.
Bob Douglas, a journalist whose career included managing the Arkansas Gazette and heading the University of Arkansas journalism department, died April 7 of complications from a stroke. He was 77. Douglas was a newspaper and legal consultant and weekly columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, where he worked for 33 years. During his tenure, the Gazette won two Pulitzer prizes, the Freedom House Award, the John Peter Zenger Award and the Elijah Lovejoy Award, among others, The Associated Press reported. In 1991, the Arkansas Gazette ceased publication, and its assets were sold to the Arkansas Democrat. Douglas also worked briefly at Little Rock television station KARK. He later was news editor of the Asheville (N.C.) Citizen for two years. Douglas was the first newspaperman to win the President’s Award from the Arkansas Broadcasters Association.
James J. Dunn, the publisher of Forbes magazine for 20 years, died March 18 at his home in North Palm Beach, Fla. He was 81. Dunn was the third publisher of Forbes, which was founded in 1917, and the first who was not a member of the Forbes family, according to The New York Times. He also had served as vice president of Forbes Inc. from 1966 to 1988. He moved to Forbes in 1966 from Life magazine, where he had risen to advertising sales director. He previously worked as an advertising salesman for Redbook magazine from 1946 to 1950.
A.W. “Bill” Hix, 61, a former Fort Worth SPJ chapter president and radio and TV newsman, died Feb. 25. During his years as president of the SDX-SPJ Fort Worth chapter, he participated in the development of the Society’s Code of Ethics. Hix also was a member of the Public Relations Society of America, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Texas Gridiron Club. Hix lived in Fort Worth since 1941 and attended the University of Texas at Arlington and Texas Christian University. He worked at radio stations KJIM and KNOX before joining the staff of KXOL, the Fort Worth station that was home to such then-unknown talents as comedian George Carlin and CBS newsman Bob Schieffer. At KXOL, Hix’s first big story was the assassination of President Kennedy. “He was a very versatile electronic journalist, whatever he did,” said Russ Bloxom, who worked with Hix at KXOL. “He believed what KXOL’s owner, Earle Fletcher, told us – to get [the story] right, and then worry about being first.” In the late 1960s, Hix joined WBAP/Channel 5, now KXAS. He later moved on to Texas Wesleyan University as director of public relations. In 1988, he was named news and information manager at Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, which later became the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth. He retired in 1997 from his position as public affairs manager at the center.
John Bittner, 58, a journalism professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and author of a widely used textbook, died April 9 at his home in Chapel Hill after a long illness. His textbook “Mass Communication” has been reprinted five times. The textbook has been translated into Arabic and used around the world, The Associated Press reported. From 1982 to 1987, Bittner was chairman of the department of radio, television and motion pictures at UNC. He also was a widely traveled lecturer on Ernest Hemingway and an activist for the humane treatment of animals.