James M. Naughton

President Emeritus (1938-2012)

James M. Naughton retired in September 2003 after seven years as president of The Poynter Institute, a school for journalists, in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Previously, he was executive editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer. In 18 years at the newspaper, he also served as national/international news editor, metro editor, associate managing editor, deputy managing editor and managing editor. The newspaper was awarded ten Pulitzer Prizes for journalism done under his direction.

From 1969 to 1977, Naughton was a correspondent in the Washington bureau of The New York Times. He covered urban affairs, Vice President Spiro T. Agnew, The Nixon White House, the 1972 presidential candidacies of Edmund Muskie and George McGovern, Congress, the Senate Watergate Hearings, the House of Representatives Inquiry into the Impeachment of President Nixon, the Ford White House and the 1976 Republican candidacy of Gerald Ford. This made him, in effect, the Times’ expert on losers.

From 1962 to 1969, he was a police, rewrite, federal, city hall, politics and state legislative reporter for The Cleveland Plain Dealer. He worked as a police reporter for WGAR Radio during a four-month newspaper strike.

Naughton’s love affair with newsgathering began his junior year in high school at The Painesville (Ohio) Telegraph; despite working there each summer from 1955 through 1960 as reporter, photographer, editor, editorial writer, copy editor and proofreader, he professes no culpability in the paper’s untimely death.

He was born (in 1938) in Pittsburgh, raised in Cleveland, and was graduated cum laude from the University of Notre Dame in 1960. He served, with no discernible increase in hostilities, as an officer of the U.S. Marines from 1960 to 1962.

He and Diana Naughton, parents of four children and five grandsons, lived — get this — on Coffee Pot Boulevard in St. Petersburg.

Naughton was the recipient of a Sigma Delta Chi award for national correspondence in 1973 for writing of the fall of Spiro Agnew and a Press Club of Cleveland award for politics reporting in 1967 for writing of the rise of Mayor Carl Stokes. He was a visiting Marsh Professor of Journalism in 1977 and 1985 at the University of Michigan. He twice was a Pulitzer Prize juror and twice a judge of the Heinz Awards. He was the only newspaper editor in America who had a chicken machine in his office, perhaps because his most notorious moment as a journalist was when he wore a chicken head to a President Ford press conference in 1976.

Naughton passed away on Aug. 11, 2012 at the age of 73.

Filed under: