The Top 100 U.S. journalists in the past 100 years ignores biz journalism


In March 2012 the faculty at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University, together with an Honorary Committee of alumni, selected “the 100 Outstanding Journalists in the United States in the Last 100 Years.” The list was selected from more than 300 nominees plus write-ins and was announced at a reception in honor of the 100th anniversary of journalism education at NYU on April 3.

There’s just one problem with the list — there are no pure business and economics journalists on the list, which seems to be an egregious omission.

Sure, James Steele and Donald Barlett, the namesakes of a business journalism award given by the Donald W. Reynold National Center for Business Journalism, are on the list. But the pair’s career work has encompassed more than writing about business and the economy.

Here are some worthy business journalists omitted from the list:

1. Barney KilgoreThe Wall Street Journal would not be what it is today without Kilgore overseeing its operations for a quarter century. When he died in 1967, Kilgore had turned what was a sleepy newspaper with a dropping circulation that focused solely on investing into a paper that won Pulitzers and had a circulation of more than 1 million.

2. Vermont Royster — The editor of The Journal from 1958 to 1971. Royster won two Pulitzer Prizes — one in 1953 and another in 1984, showing the length and quality of his career — for his opinion and commentary writing, and he is arguably the last great columnist this country has seen.

3. Alan Abelson — He has been in business journalism now for 60 years, still writing his acerbic column for Barron’s. Abelson set the standard for taking a contrarian viewpoint in writing about investing, and he is right so often that his column still moves markets.

4. Sylvia Porter — She created personal finance journalism for the masses, first for the New York Post beginning in 1936. She is the only business journalist to ever appear on the cover of a mainstream magazine, appearing on the Nov. 28, 1960 cover of Time. As Time put it, “More car buyers, more stock market investors and more plain everyday consumers listen to Sylvia Porter than to any other economic writer.”

5. Louis Rukeyser —   The host of “Wall Street Week” on Public Broadcasting Stations for 35 years, Rukeyser made investing understandable to the average viewer while educating them about its dangers. He represented the consumer, not the market experts who appeared on his show, while providing valuable advice.

6. Allan Sloan — Now at Fortune, previously at Newsweek, Newsday, Forbes and other media. No one in business journalism today has done more to advance the craft as the watchdog of business than Sloan. He will take on anyone and write fearlessly. My personal hero.

Others that should have been considered: Myron Kandel, Paul Steiger, Floyd Norris, Hobart Rowan, James Michaels, Michael Lewis, Gretchen Morgenson.