As 2016 comes to an end, the Newseum recognizes notable men and women who passed away this year whose dedication to journalism and a free press will not be forgotten. Many of them are featured in Newseum galleries and exhibits and are honored separately from the journalists who were killed around the world reporting the news. For a list of those names, please visit the Journalists Memorial.
Wearing his signature blue French worker’s jacket and riding a bicycle, New York Times fashion photographer Bill Cunningham roved city streets capturing new trends among stylish New Yorkers. His popular “On the Street” column not only highlighted fashion in every sense and season, it reinforced New York as the fashion capital of the world. In 2009, the New York Landmarks Conservancy named Cunningham a “living landmark.” “I’m interested in capturing a moment with animation and spirit,” he said.
Syndicated columnist George Curry was a passionate champion of the black press. His professional career began in 1970 as a reporter for Sports Illustrated and branched into executive roles as editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association’s news service and editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, a monthly newsmagazine that folded in 2000. Curry was working to revive the magazine online before his death. He said he wanted people to think of Emerge “as a black Time or Newsweek, or … think of them as a white Emerge.”
Long before the use of fact-checking systems became popular with news organizations, CBS News reporter Eric Engberg was exposing waste and fraud and holding politicians accountable for their actions through his weekly “Reality Check” segments. “Time out!” was his signature phrase before he would set the record straight. In 1998, he discovered the identity of the Vietnam veteran buried in the Tomb of the Unknowns and that military officials knew the veteran’s identity but hid the information.
Award-winning journalist and author Gwen Ifill wanted to be a journalist since she was nine. She went on to become a trailblazer in print and broadcast news and one of the most respected journalists in America. In 1999, she became moderator of PBS’s “Washington Week in Review” and was senior correspondent for PBS NewHour. In 2013, she and Judy Woodruff were named co-anchors and co-managing editors of NewsHour — the first female co-anchor team in network broadcasting. “When I was a little girl watching programs like this … I would look up and not see anyone who looked like me in any way. … I’m very keen about the fact that a little girl now … when they see me and Judy sitting side by side, it will occur to them that that’s perfectly normal.”
As founder of television’s “The McLaughlin Group,” John McLaughlin ushered in an era of political talk shows where fast-paced pugnacious ideological punditry was the norm. For 34 years, the former Jesuit priest and speechwriter for President Richard M. Nixon moderated a panel of journalists whose opinions he interrupted with “Wrong!” when he disagreed with them. His fast-paced combative style was the key to the program’s success. “This show demythologizes the press,” he said, “and I think people like that.”
For 43 years at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Acel Moore told the stories of black Philadelphians who otherwise would not have been heard. He started out as a copy boy in 1962 after a boycott forced the Inquirer to diversify its all-white newsroom. Moore was a co-founder of the National Association of Black Journalists and was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1977 for local investigative specialized reporting. “I do what I do … to erase stereotypes that go beyond race,” he said.
Morley Safer was the last of the original correspondents on “60 Minutes.” Before working at the top-rated CBS newsmagazine, the Toronto-born journalist was best known for his award-winning coverage of the Vietnam War. His 1965 report on the burning of Can Ne riled White House officials and became a watershed for television war reporting. “I really don’t like being on television,” he said in a special program marking his retirement from CBS. …“It is not natural to be talking to a piece of machinery. But the money is good.”
Sportscaster Craig Sager was known as much for his garish suits and sports jackets as he was for his indefatigable sideline sports reporting, particularly of the NBA. His consistency and approachability earned him the trust and respect of players and coaches, which often led to scoops. Sager was inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame two days before his death. “My clothes reflect who I am,” he said. “I believe that life should be fun and so should your clothes.”
For 30 years, ESPN sportscaster John Saunders was the host of some of the network’s most popular shows, including “SportsCenter” and “The Sports Reporters,” and was a steady presence to millions of ESPN and ABC viewers. The Canadian-born anchor called himself “the hardest working man in show business” for his simultaneous work at the affiliated networks. Saunders was committed to newsroom diversity and helped launch the broadcasting careers of many black journalists.
When the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh fell in 1975, New York Times foreign correspondent Sydney H. Schanberg defied editors’ orders and stayed in the country to report on the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge. His tenacious reporting earned him the 1976 Pulitzer Prize; his story about the capture of Dith Pran, his Cambodian friend, aide and translator, was turned into the movie “The Killing Fields. “I’m a very lucky man to have had Pran as my reporting partner,” Schanberg said. “My reporting could not have been done without him.”
South African editor and correspondent Allister Sparks was a persistent thorn in the side of South Africa’s apartheid-era government. As editor of The Rand Daily Mail, he challenged the apartheid system, exposing the beating death by police of black activist Steve Biko and uncovering a covert propaganda campaign that led to the resignation of President John Vorster.
The fifth-generation South African called journalism his “education and … intellectual salvation, even as my country transformed from a racist police state to a nonracial democracy.”