Tag Archives: Obituaries

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Reuters posts Soros obituary; he’s not dead yet

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Simon Neville of The Guardian reports that Reuters inadvertantly posted an obituary of investor George Soros on Thursday despite his remaining very much alive.

Neville writes, “Published for 30 minutes  on Thursday night, it starts: ‘George Soros, who died XXX at age XXX, was a predatory and hugely successful financier and investor, who argued paradoxically for years against the same sort of free-wheeling capitalism that made him billions.’ The piece, written by Todd Eastham, carries on in a pointed vein, referring to the 82-year-old’s multibillion-pound currency gambles, including a famed punt against the pound that led to a political watershed for the post-Thatcher Conservative government in the early 1990s.

“‘He was known as ‘the man who broke the Bank of England’ for selling short the British pound in 1992 and helping force the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, which devalued the pound and earned Soros more than $1bn (£650m). And his Soros Fund Management was widely blamed for helping trigger the Asian financial crisis of 1997, by selling short the Thai baht and Malaysian ringgit.’

“Reuters removed the article within 30 minutes, although references could still be found on Friday morning via Google searches, and apologised to Soros for the mistake. By then, however, Twitter had done its work.

“The 1,000-word article lists several of Soros’s philanthropic endeavours, which according to his Wikipedia page include giving away over $8bn to human rights, public health and education causes. But the first half prefers to dwell on perceived faults while arguing that he was contrary in his views. For instance, it includes comments by economist Paul Krugman, who accuses Soros of helping trigger financial crises from which he benefited.”

Read more here.

Gerald Barry

Ex-Newsweek biz writer dies at 90

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Gerald Barry, a business journalist for Newsweek in the 1960s, died last week in Greenwich Village at the age of 90.

Albert Amateau of The Villager writes, ‘In the 1950s, he worked for International News Service, a Hearst wire service, in Hartford, Conn., and when I.N.S. merged with United Press as U.P.I. he worked as a wire editor in London until 1960.

Clem Morgello, retired business editor of Newsweek, the news magazine where Gerald Barry wrote business news articles from 1960 to 1970, recalled Barry’s abilities in the high-pressure environment.

“’Jerry knew how to dig deep for a story and get it,’ Morgello said. ‘In an atmosphere of super egos Jerry was a listener but he would put up a feisty argument to prove a point,’ Morgello added.

“In 1970, Gerald Barry took a job as director of publications for the international accountancy firm of Peat Marwick Mitchell.”

Read more here.

Gretchen Metz

What a PR person learned from a business reporter

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Melinda Williams, a public relations executive in suburban Philadelphia, writes about what she learned from Daily Local News business reporter Gretchen Metz, who died last week from pancreatic cancer.

Williams writes, “Since most of my public relations accounts in Chester County fell into the business category, I had the opportunity to get to know the Business Editor Brian McCullough and his senior reporter, Gretchen Metz, pretty well. Over the last 10 years, Brian and Gretchen have worked on stories that involved my clients, and their breadth of knowledge and scope never failed to amaze me.

“On occasion, we’d have the opportunity to sit together over a cup of coffee and chat about the state of local business in Chester County. Inevitably, questions would start percolating out of me and Gretchen would have to answer them. I would ask her things such as, ‘Who is moving into the old Genuardi’s store?’ Or, ‘Why is that store closed?’ Or, ‘What happened to the head of that company?’ Inevitably, Gretchen would always know the answers. And if she didn’t know something, Brian certainly did.

“I have an incredible amount of respect for these newspaper people who have weathered many storms, both professional and personal. Through them, I discovered a newfound respect for what it meant to be a reporter. Previously, from my ‘big-city newspaper experience,’ I thought being a great reporter meant being above the crowd and above the fray. It meant being an observer, on a high perch, able to comment and report on the events. Through Gretchen, I found that being a true reporter meant to get down and dirty, right in the thick of things. It meant never being afraid to mix with the masses, listen to the people who mattered most and on more than one occasion, get your hands dirty, figuratively and literally.

“I recall she had this great column a few years back called ‘Put Gretchen to Work.’ Offbeat companies would call up and ask to have Gretchen work with them for a day and then report on it. Consider it a distant forerunner to the TV Show, ‘Dirty Jobs,’ with Mike Rowe. I remember reading about Gretchen’s experience working at a car wash, on a dairy farm, at a quick lube station, and even with the man who picks up road refuse on the side of the highway. It was truly an eye-opener and usually pretty, pretty funny.”

Read more here.

Gretchen Metz

Pennsylvania business reporter dies at 64

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Gretchen Metz, a business reporter for the Daily Local News in West Chester, Pa., for more than 24 yares has died this week from pancreatic cancer. She was 64.

Michael Rellahan of the paper writes, “Metz covered every facet of business in the county during its period of enormous economic growth — from the opening of small family-owned businesses to the high-powered machinations of multimillion-dollar corporations. She wrote about contentious labor strikes, described how the weather would play havoc on or spin gold for local merchants, and chronicled the rise of the home-shopping giant QVC.

“Her interests ranged from farming and agriculture, to the everyday life of workers, to the psychology of shopping, leading her to jokingly nickname herself ‘The Queen of Retail.’

“Over the years, professional associations awarded her numerous journalism prizes for her work on multi-part series that dissected complex business trends in the county.

“Metz was diagnosed in the fall of 2009 with pancreatic cancer, a fact she shared with readers in columns she wrote promoting legislation to increase funding for expanded research into the fatal disease. She underwent surgery and treatment for her condition, but it resurfaced in early 2012. Despite its effects, she continued to work at the Daily Local nearly full time — interviewing sources, writing stories, organizing the paper’s Business Section coverage — but fell ill on Friday, March 1.”

Read more here.

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Aiken, former Cincy Enquirer biz editor, dies at 77

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Scott Aiken, who was the business editor of the Cincinnati Enquirer in the 1970s, died Wednesday at the age of 77.

Sheila McLaughlin of the Enquirer writes, “As business editor at The Enquirer, Mr. Aiken is credited with making that section more in-depth.

“‘He got the business section onto a really good path,’ said Luke Feck, former editor at The Enquirer. ‘They were always good at reporting but when Scott came they became more analytical. He brought that skill to the job.’

“At Cincinnati Bell, he helped company executives weather a national illegal wiretapping scandal. Bell officials eventually cleared their names.

“‘Scott was the guy who really orchestrated the public work on that and did such a marvelous job,’ said Don Hoffman, who worked with Mr. Aiken as senior vice president of administration. ‘He was a reporter at heart. Scott always wanted the facts. He was not one to play with the facts. He was so careful to get it right and do it right. And he wouldn’t risk his reputation on someone not doing it right.’”

Read more here.

Maya J Randall with husband

Maya Jackson Randall remembered by her editor

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Maya Jackson Randall, one of my star reporters at the Dow Jones Newswires/Wall Street Journal Washington bureau, died this week after a long fight with leukemia. Just 33 years old, Maya possessed a remarkable blend of dignity, calm and determination. All of us who knew her feel a great loss this week.

(The photo is Maya Jackson Randall, right, and her husband Jeremy, left, at the 2009 White House Christmas party with the Obamas. Jackson Randall had been diagnosed with leukemia just days before this event.)

I wanted to share some thoughts about her career and how she rose from a junior energy reporting job to increasingly complicated and demanding beats, such as the chaos of covering the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve during the 2008 financial crisis. She was briefly the Newswires White House reporter until she was diagnosed with cancer, but then went on to a productive period on the consumer beat as she fought the disease. Her story should serve as a role model for young journalists trying to break into the business and an inspiration for veterans still perfecting their craft.

Maya’s persistence, flexibility and ambition were on full display when she covered the Treasury Department in 2008-2009. One example was in March 2009, when Maya called with a complaint and a question about the Treasury staff. She asked how much money was left in the Troubled Asset Relief Program, but the staff won’t tell us. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was dodging the question in public appearances. I suggested she add up the public commitments and we could print our own estimate. This was kind of a basic idea, but Maya ran with it.

She teamed up with colleague Mike Crittenden and, after a search of congressional transcripts, public documents, they determined just $52.6 billion was left uncommitted in the $700 billion rescue fund. This story stirred up a fuss, and Geithner was confronted with the story during his appearances on ABC’s “This Week” program with George Stephanopolous and CBS’ “Face the Nation,” with Bob Schieffer.

Maya could have filed a brief wire story with her findings and moved on to the next story, but she and Crittenden took the time to build out the proper context and to explain to readers the importance of transparency in handling the rescue funds. And then she followed up. And followed up again. Their articles won a 2010 Society of American Business Editors and Writers’ beat reporting award, as well as a Newswires William R. Clabby award for excellence. She did this often, taking an ordinary task or opportunity and making it into something important.

Journalism was part of Maya’s upbringing as her father, Harold Jackson, was the first African-American reporter for the Savannah, Ga. Morning News. He went on to earn his PhD in communications from the University of Michigan and now runs an international communications consulting firm in Atlanta. Maya’s mother, Lillian, is a top communications officer for the Georgia Department of Transportation. Maya earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Howard University, where she was a Trustee Scholar, and a master degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Maryland in 2001.

She had an internship with The Wall Street Journal while in college and then worked at Money magazine and McGraw-Hill before I helped hire her in 2004 at Dow Jones. Her last beat was covering the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the new federal agency that arose from the financial crisis to regulate credit cards and mortgages. The two leaders of the agency, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Richard Cordray, this week both praised Maya for her tough but fair reporting. “She was hard­working and skilled at zeroing in on the facts and holding us to the standards of transparency the public expects,” Sen. Warren said. “She was also a warm, spirited, and wonderful person, and I am deeply saddened by her loss.”

I saw Maya grow over the seven years she worked with me, and as she learned her craft, and then handled the demands of motherhood. Maya and her husband, Jeremy, welcomed their son Jeremiah into the world in 2007. She returned from maternity leave to a new beat at Treasury in early 2008, and amazed me by handling late-breaking news while trying to calm down a screaming baby at night.

She first became sick in August 2009, noticing she was unusually fatigued while covering the Federal Reserve’s summer retreat at Jackson Hole. She began chemotherapy treatment in December 2009 and she began working from home in the summer of 2010 during her recovery. I had assigned Maya to cover health studies, help prepare for Supreme Court decisions and other projects without an immediate deadline, things she could complete in between her regular trips to the hospital.

Just reading the wire, you could not know she was struggling with cancer treatments. Some days she would file multiple stories, on items ranging from the potential health hazards of cellphones to a Supreme Court action on a privacy lawsuit.

This continued during her hospitalization in 2012. Gary Fields, a Wall Street Journal reporter and close friend of Maya’s, recalls collaborating with her on front-page story last year. “After the cancer had come out of remission, questions were bouncing back and forth between me and the New York editors,” Fields recalled. “The next thing I know, answers started coming from a BlackBerry. She was literally in the hospital getting treatments and on the BlackBerry. I asked why did she have the doggone thing with her, and she told me she was feeling fine, was bored and needed something to do.”

She refused to let the moment go to waste.

Services are scheduled for Saturday, March 2, in Atlanta at Antioch Baptist Church North

Rob Wells is the former deputy bureau chief for Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal in Washington. He is now an adjunct instructor for both the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism and the University of South Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

Maya Jackson Randall

Dow Jones/WSJ reporter dies of leukemia

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Maya Jackson Randall, a reporter for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal in Washington, has died of leukemia.

Randall covered financial and consumer issues. She had also worked at Money magazine and at McGraw-Hill Cos. as an assistant editor.

The leukemia was apparently very aggressive. Randall had been tweeting as recently as December, and had a byline as recently as Nov. 19.

Randall had a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Howard University and a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Maryland.

She interned at Newsweek and at The Journal.

Mark Saylor

Saylor, former LA Times biz journalist, dies at 58

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Mark Saylor, a former Los Angeles Times editor who oversaw a Pulitzer Prize-winning series of articles on corruption in the entertainment industry, died Friday of cancer. He was 58.

Rebecca Trounson of The Times writes, “In 1998, as entertainment editor for The Times’ business section, Saylor worked with reporters Chuck Philips and Michael A. Hiltzik on three major projects over one year: fundraising by the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences that netted only pennies for its charity; a resurgence of radio station ‘payola,’ or illicit payoffs, for airplay of new recordings; and the preponderance of untested luxury detox programs for wealthy celebrities.

“The stories, combined in a single entry, won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for beat reporting, an award Saylor had called especially satisfying because it honored ‘aggressive reporting on the hometown industry … where The Times has long labored under a cloud, the misperception that we’re soft on the entertainment industry.’

Michael Parks, the paper’s top editor from 1997 to 2000, said Saylor was a tough, aggressive editor who was skilled at creating reporting teams, such as Hiltzik and Philips, with disparate personalities and skills.

“‘He was really quite a smart manager of talent, not necessarily easy on that talent but smart at getting what needed to be gotten from them,’ Parks said. ‘This series really mattered, not just because it is our home industry but because this industry’s values are transmitted to society in so many ways.’”

Read more here.

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Former Oregonian biz editor dies at 102

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Mel Blais, the business editor for The Oregonian in Portland during the 1950s, died Friday at the age of 102.

A story on The Oregonian website states, “‘Mel’ Blais was born Feb. 13, 1911, on a farm near Eugene. He graduated from Eugene High School in 1928 and from the University of Oregon in 1932 with a bachelor’s in journalism. He worked on weekly newspapers in Oakland, Calif., and Vale, Ore., then on the daily in Grants Pass and as news editor of the Eugene Daily News.

“He was a member of The Oregonian’s news staff from 1937 to 1960, including 5 1/2 years as business editor. He took breaks from the newspaper to serve in World War II, including a stint in the South Pacific from 1943 to 1945. He was the public information officer in Oregon for the U.S. Veterans Administration from 1946 to 1949.

“He was preceded in death by his wife, Jean Marie MacDonald Blais, whom he married Feb. 21, 1941 in Chehalis, Wash. He is survived by seven of their eight children.”

Read more here.

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Former WSJ AME Hinson dies

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Dan Hinson, an assistant managing editor at The Wall Street Journal who retired in 1997, died on Monday.

In an email to the staff on Tuesday, deputy managing editor Jim Pensiero writes, “Dan retired in 1997 after working for Dow Jones and the Journal for 42 years. He was one of the key people responsible for overseeing the ‘daily miracle’ of the Journal’s news production spanning from the days of hot-metal composing to desktop publishing.  In addition to being exceptionally good at his work, he was a kind and gentle man with a great eye for talent.”

Hinson’s son Steve Hinson wrote, “Please know that the thoughts, prayers, notes, cards and photos from you and the rest of his extended family at Dow Jones helped to cheer and sustain him over these past few months.  Only a week ago, we watched the video of my father’s retirement dinner and it brought him great joy to see all of you again at one of his proudest and happiest moments.”

Former WSJ managing editor Paul Steiger sent the following note to Talking Biz News about Hinson:

Dan Hinson, who retired in 1997, was a true MVP of the Wall Street Journal whom few readers of the paper had ever heard of. He was also that rare person whom everyone he worked with both respected and loved. His job was to manage the interfaces between the Journal’s news department and its production and advertising departments. He did it brilliantly and seamlessly, always with the reader uppermost in his mind. It fell to him to remind the journalists that deadlines do matter and the production people that story fixes needed to be made immediately. It was his job to tell the ad people that, no, they couldn’t run this $100,000 insertion because he had discovered it misquoted a Journal story. It was also his job to tell the newsies that they couldn’t do a story on a takeover bid that someone spotted in an ad on the composing room floor until at least one copy of the paper had left the door of one printing plant somewhere in the country (and thus the ad was in the public domain). He spotted talent well and was one of the first leaders to avidly recruit and promote women. He was, as his friend and colleague Jim Pensiero noted today, one of the all time greats.

Barney Calame, a former deputy managing editor at The Journal, sent the following to Talking Biz News about Hinson:

Dan was a gentle straight shooter in a newsroom with its share of large egos.  But he didn’t duck speaking truth to power when he felt it was necessary.  His work on the production side of the Journal before he became an assistant managing editor in the news department made him especially valuable there.  With his deep understanding of how the Journal worked — from reporting to delivery truck — Dan played a key role in making sure the paper got out every day.  And when there was a crisis, his calmness and wisdom would save the day.