Skip to main content
Select Source:

Boyd, Gerald M.

Gerald M. Boyd

1950–2006

Newspaper editor

Gerald M. Boyd rose to become the managing editor of the New York Times in July of 2001, the first African American in the newspaper's history to hold such a senior rank. Boyd had devoted his career to journalism. A Times staff member since 1983, Boyd began as a reporter with the paper's national political team, serving as White House correspondent during the Iran-Contra affair, became metropolitan editor in the mid-1990s, and, by 1997, had risen to the position of deputy managing editor for news. Boyd had "impeccable news judgment," said Howell Raines, the Times' executive editor, in announcing Boyd's appointment as managing editor to the Business Wire. Boyd's time at the top was short-lived, however. Despite resigning in 2003 amidst a journalistic scandal, Boyd had built a respectable legacy in his field.

Gerald Boyd was born in St. Louis, Missouri. His mother died when he was six, so he and his brother, Gary, were raised by their elderly grandmother. To supplement his grandmother's meager pension, Boyd worked forty hours a week at a local grocery store while attending high school. He was an excellent student, and, following his graduation in 1969, he was awarded a scholarship to study journalism at the University of Missouri, sponsored by The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Here, in addition to serving as student body vice president, he was inducted into one of the university's senior honor societies. Then, because the student-run newspaper, Maneater, had no black writers, he and fellow student Sheila Rule launched Blackout, a minority-run publication. Boyd received his bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri at Columbia in 1973.

Boyd began his newspaper career as a copy boy for The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He quickly rose to the post of City Hall reporter, later wrote on housing and consumer affairs, and, after three years, was assigned to cover Congress. He later became the newspaper's White House correspondent. "There were just two minority reporters covering the White House then, so that brought me to Reagan's attention," Boyd recalled in an interview with The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I got far more attention than I deserved, and I would always be called on by Reagan at press conferences."

In 1977, his fourth year with the Post-Dispatch, Boyd founded and served as first president of the St. Louis Association of Black Journalists. Among the association's projects was a seven-week journalism workshop for high school students, which Boyd initiated. During this time he also taught writing at Howard University and served as an instructor in the University of Missouri's journalism workshop for minority students. In 1977 he was named Sigma Delta Chi's Journalist of the Year, and two years later was the youngest journalist selected to attend Harvard University as a Nieman Fellow.

Boyd joined the New York Times in November of 1983, after ten distinguished years with the Post-Dispatch. He began as a national political reporter assigned to cover the activities of Vice President George Bush during the 1984 presidential campaign. Promoted to White House correspondent following the election, Boyd produced in-depth articles on the inter-nal shake-up following the Iran-Contra disclosures and the resignation of Donald T. Regan, President Ronald Reagan's chief of staff. In 1988, he covered Vice President George Bush's quest for the presidency, beginning with the nominating process and continuing through the general election. Later he wrote extensively on Bush's cabinet appointees and his plans for the nation.

In 1991, Boyd was named a senior editor at the New York Times, moving into the position of special assistant to the managing editor. He then worked briefly as chief editor in the paper's Washington bureau and on the national and metropolitan news desks before becoming metropolitan editor, a major job that involved directing a staff of more than 100 reporters and editors. While serving as metropolitan editor, Boyd oversaw a major expansion of the newspaper's metropolitan report. This involved hiring new staff, reorganizing the department, and reconfiguring its news coverage. In 1993 he directed the Times' coverage of the World Trade Center bombing, which earned the paper a 1994 Pulitzer Prize for spot news reporting. This was the newspaper's first Pulitzer for local reporting in more than twenty years. A number of Boyd's staff reporters also won recognition as Pulitzer finalists in the categories of investigative reporting and spot news.

Named an assistant managing editor in 1993, Boyd became deputy managing editor for news in 1997. Among his responsibilities were supervising the Times' coverage of Washington, foreign, national, and metropolitan news, organizing the final news lineup, and overseeing the front-page layout. In 2000 he served as co-senior editor of the paper's "How Race is Lived in America" series, an examination of racial experiences and attitudes which won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting.

When Boyd was named managing editor of the New York Times in 2001, he became the second-ranking member of the organization's 1,200-member news staff. Upon learning of his appointment, Boyd said he felt both honored and delighted. "I will do everything I can to help us maintain our tradition and our standards and to continue to be the crown jewel of journalism," he said in an interview with the New York Times. In the same article, executive editor Howell Raines described Boyd as a combination of "strength … spine … [and] gentleness." Boyd, he maintained, had "a deep, deep, deep commitment to the ideals and values of the New York Times, and it is these ideals that keep each and every one of us coming here every day. And I know he will be a worthy steward of those values." In speaking to his colleagues at the Times, Boyd added that he hoped his trail-blazing appointment would serve to inspire a new generation of African-American achievers. "I hope tomorrow, when some kid of color picks up the New York Times and reads about the new managing editor, that kid will smile a little and maybe dream just a little bigger dream," he said. During his tenure the paper won seven Pulitzer Prizes.

Boyd's time as managing editor of the New York Times came to an abrupt end in 2003. Boyd resigned from his post after the fallout of a scandal in the work of reporter Jayson Blair, who had fabricated information and plagiarized. His resignation marked the end of a long-held dream. Being editor of the New York Times had been "his single most important goal," George Curry, his former colleague at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, told the New York Times. "To get the position and have it blow up was extremely disappointing. It was what he always wanted to do."

The scandal did not erase all that Boyd had worked for, however. New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller noted that Boyd "left the paper under sad circumstances, but despite all of that he left behind a great reservoir of respect and affection," according to the New York Times. Boyd never lost his intense interest in journalism. He collaborated on the development of curriculum at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism in 2004 and wrote a draft of his memoirs. But his health failed him. On November 23, 2006, Boyd succumbed to lung cancer at his home in Harlem.

At a Glance …

Born Gerald M. Boyd in 1950, in St. Louis, MO; died on November 23, 2006, in Harlem, NY; married Robin Stone; children: Zachary. Education: University of Missouri, Columbia, BA, 1973.

Career: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, reporter and White House correspondent, 1973–83; New York Times, national political reporter, 1983–84, White House correspondent, 1984–91, metropolitan editor, 1991–93, assistant managing editor, 1993–97, deputy managing editor for news, 1997–2001, managing editor, 2001–03.

Memberships: St. Louis Association of Black Journalists, founding member and first president, 1977.

Awards: Nieman Fellow, Harvard University, 1980.

Sources

Periodicals

Jet, September 10, 2001, p. 25.

Los Angeles Times, November 24, 2006, p. B13.

Newsday, July 27, 2001, p. A48.

New York Times, July 27, 2001, p. 13.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 15, 2000, p. E1; November 24, 2006, p. A8.

Washington Post, July 27, 2001, p. C8; November 24, 2006, p. B7.

Other

Additional information for this profile was obtained from the Business Wire (July 26, 2001) and materials provided by the New York Times.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Boyd, Gerald M.." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Boyd, Gerald M.." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/boyd-gerald-m

"Boyd, Gerald M.." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/boyd-gerald-m

Boyd, Gerald M. 1950–

Gerald M. Boyd 1950

Newspaper editor

Launched Career in St. Louis

Helped The Times Win a Pulitzer

Took #2 Spot at The Times

Sources

When Gerald M. Boyd was named managing editor of The New York Times in July of 2001, he became the first African American in the newspapers history to hold such a senior rank. A Times staff member since 1983, Boyd began as a reporter with the papers national political team, serving as White House correspondent during the Iran-Contra affair, became metropolitan editor in the mid-1990s, and, by 1997, had risen to the position of deputy managing editor for news. Gerald will be a great managing editor by virtue of his journalistic ability, his experience as a leader in our newsroom and his deep understanding and commitment to the values of The New York Times, said Howell Raines, The Times executive editor, in announcing Boyds appointment to the Business Wire. He has impeccable news judgment, and I am excited by the prospect of working with him in close partnership with our colleagues in the newsroom, our bureaus, and at New York Times Digital. Boyd now oversaw some 1, 200 reporters and editors, his name listed third from the top on the masthead of one of the nations most prestigious newspapers.

Gerald Boyd was born in St. Louis, Missouri. His mother died when he was six, so he and his brother, Gary, were raised by their elderly grandmother. To supplement his grandmothers meager pension, Boyd worked forty hours a week at a local grocery store while attending high school. He was an excellent student, and, following his graduation in 1969, he was a-warded a scholarship to study journalism at the University of Missouri, sponsored by The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Here, in addition to serving as student body vice president, he was inducted into one of the universitys senior honor societies. Then, because the student-run newspaper, Maneater, had no black writers, he and fellow student Sheila Rule launched Blackout, a minority-run publication. Boyd received his bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Missouri at Columbia in 1973.

Launched Career in St. Louis

Boyd began his newspaper career as a copy boy for The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He quickly rose to the post of city hall reporter, later wrote on housing and consumer affairs, and, after three years, was assigned to cover Congress. He later became the newspapers White House correspondent. There were just two minority reporters covering the White House then, so that brought me to Reagans attention, Boyd recalled

At a Glance

Born Gerald M. Boyd, in 1950, in St Louis, MO; married Robin Stone; children: one. Education: University of Missouri, Columbia, B.A., 1973.

Career: St Louis Post-Dispatch, reporter and White House correspondent, 197383; New York Times, national political reporter, 198384, White House correspondent, 198491, metropolitan editor, 199193, assistant managing editor, 199397, deputy managing editor for news, 199701, managing editor, 2001-.

Member: Founding member and first president, St. Louis Association of Black Journalists, 1977.

Awards: Nieman Fellow, Harvard University, 1980.

Addresses: OfficeThe New York Times, 229 West 43rd Street, New York, NY 10036.

in an interview with The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. I got far more attention than I deserved, and I would always be called on by Reagan at press conferences.

In 1977, his fourth year with the Post-Dispatch, Boyd founded and served as first president of the St. Louis Association of Black Journalists. Among the associations projects was a seven-week journalism workshop for high school students, which Boyd initiated. During this time he also taught writing at Howard University and served as an instructor in the University of Missouris journalism workshop for minority students. In 1977 he was named Sigma Delta Chis Journalist of the Year, and two years later was the youngest journalist selected to attend Harvard University as a Nieman Fellow.

Boyd joined The New York Times in November of 1983, after ten distinguished years with The Post-Dispatch. He began as a national political reporter assigned to cover the activities of Vice President George Bush during the 1984 presidential campaign. Promoted to White House correspondent following the election, Boyd produced in-depth articles on the internal shake-up following the Iran-Contra disclosures and the resignation of Donald T. Regan, President Ronald Reagans chief of staff. In 1988 he covered Vice President George Bushs quest for the presidency, beginning with the nominating process and continuing through the general election. Later he wrote extensively on Bushs cabinet appointees and his plans for the nation.

Helped The Times Win a Pulitzer

In 1991 Boyd was named a senior editor at The New York Times, moving into the position of special assistant to the managing editor. He then worked briefly as chief editor in the papers Washington bureau and on the national and metropolitan news desks before becoming metropolitan editor, a major job which involved directing a staff of more than 100 reporters and editors. While serving as metropolitan editor, Boyd oversaw a major expansion of the newspapers metropolitan report. This involved hiring new staff, reorganizing the department, and reconfiguring its news coverage. In 1993 he directed The Times coverage of the World Trade Center bombing, which earned the paper a 1994 Pulitzer Prize for spot news reporting. This was the newspapers first Pulitzer for local reporting in more than twenty years. A number of Boyds staff reporters also won recognition as Pulitzer finalists in the categories of investigative reporting and spot news.

Named an assistant managing editor in 1993, Boyd became deputy managing editor for news in 1997. Among his responsibilities were supervising The Times coverage of Washington, foreign, national, and metropolitan news, organizing the final news lineup, and overseeing the front-page layout. In 2000 he served as co-senior editor of the papers How Race is Lived in America series, an examination of racial experiences and attitudes which won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting.

Took #2 Spot at The Times

When Boyd was named managing editor of The New York Times in 2001, he became the second-ranking member of the organizations 1, 200-member news staff. Upon learning of his appointment, Boyd said he felt both honored and delighted. I will do everything I can to help us maintain our tradition and our standards and to continue to be the crown jewel of journalism, he said in an interview with The New York Times. In the same article, executive editor Howell Raines described Boyd as a combination of strength spine [and] gentleness. Boyd, he maintained, had a deep, deep, deep commitment to the ideals and values of The New York Times, and it is these ideals that keep each and every one of us coming here every day. And I know he will be a worthy steward of those values. In speaking to his colleagues at The Times, Boyd added that he hoped his trail-blazing appointment would serve to inspire a new generation of African-American achievers. I hope tomorrow, when some kid of color picks up The New York Times and reads about the new managing editor, that kid will smile a little and maybe dream just a little bigger dream, he said.

Sources

Periodicals

Jet, September 10, 2001, p.25

Newsday, July 27, 2001, p.A48

The New York Times, July 27, 2001, p.13.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 15, 2000, p. El.

The Washington Post, July 27, 2001, p. C8.

Other

Additional information for this profile was obtained from the Business Wire (July 26, 2001) and materials provided by The New York Times.

Caroline B. D. Smith

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Boyd, Gerald M. 1950–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Boyd, Gerald M. 1950–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/boyd-gerald-m-1950

"Boyd, Gerald M. 1950–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/boyd-gerald-m-1950