Gilbert, Ben W. 1918-2007 (Ben William Gilbert)

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Gilbert, Ben W. 1918-2007 (Ben William Gilbert)


See index for CA sketch: Born February 10, 1918, in New York, NY; died of breast and lung cancer, February 28, 2007, in Tacoma, WA. Journalist, editor, activist, and author. A former Washington Post editor, Gilbert later worked in local government and became an activist for the rights of the hearing impaired. Graduating with a degree in social science in 1937 from what is now the City College of the City University of New York, he then completed a master's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri in 1939. It was while in school that he was advised to change his last name from Goldberg to Gilbert to make it easier to get a job in a world where many Americans were still secretly anti-Semitic. Gilbert was a city hall reporter in St. Louis, Missouri, before finding work as a reporter with the Washington Post in 1941. During World War II, he briefly worked for the War Labor Board, then returned to the newspaper. Here he rose through the ranks to city editor in 1945 and deputy managing editor in 1964. Believing that it was important for newspapers to take an active role in influencing their readership, Gilbert often clashed with his managing editor, Benjamin Bradlee, who wanted the Post to remain apolitical. Gilbert, however, was deeply concerned about such issues as racism, corruption, and poverty, focusing his editorial work on exposing these problems. For example, his work on investigating corruption in the Washington, DC, police department led to a U.S. Senate investigation in the early 1950s, and in 1968 he urged greater coverage of the civil rights movement and race riots. Regarding the latter, Gilbert edited and helped to write Ten Blocks from the White House: Anatomy of the Washington Riots of 1968 (1968). He left the Washington Post as associate editor in 1970. For the next year, he was editor of the television news program Newsroom, the forerunner of Newshour with Jim Lehrer. He then worked in the Washington, DC, mayor's office as director of planning and management. This was a key role as control of the nation's capital transitioned from federal to local government for the first time. In 1983, Gilbert moved to Tacoma, Washington, where he served on the Tacoma Landmarks Commission until 2003. He then helped lead the Self Help for Hard of Hearing People nonprofit organization, which strove to bring the hearing impaired out of isolation and get them involved with family and communities.



Washington Post, March 1, 2007, p. B7.

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Gilbert, Ben W. 1918-2007 (Ben William Gilbert)

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