Jones, Alex S. 1946-
JONES, Alex S. 1946-
PERSONAL: Born November 19, 1946, in Greeneville, TN; son of John M. (a newspaper publisher) and Arnold (a homemaker; maiden name, Susong) Jones; married Susan E. Tifft (a journalist), September 21, 1985. Education: Washington and Lee University, B.A., 1968. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Episcopalian.
ADDRESSES: Home—Apt. 61, 1 Waterhouse St., Cambridge, MA 02138-3612. Office—Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, John F. Kennedy School of Government, 79 JFK St., 2nd Floor Taubman, Cambridge, MA 02138. Agent—Kathy Robbins, Robbins Office Inc., 405 Park Ave. 9th Floor, New York, NY 10022.
CAREER: Journalist, writer, broadcaster. Daily Post-Athenian, Athens, TN, managing editor, 1974-78; Greeneville Sun, Greeneville, TN, editor, 1978-83; New York Times, New York, NY, business reporter, 1983-92; WNYC-AM Radio, New York, NY, host of On the Media, 1993; Public Broadcasting System (PBS-TV), New York, NY, host and executive editor, Media Matters, 1996—; Duke University, Durham, NC, coholder of Eugene Patterson Professorship of Journalism, 1998-2000; Harvard University, Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy, lecturer, director, 2000—. Appalshop, member of board of directors; International Center for Journalists, member of board of directors. Has appeared on numerous television shows, including The News Hour, Nightline, McLaughlin Report, and The Charlie Rose Show. Military service: U.S. Naval Reserve, active duty, 1968-71; became lieutenant junior grade.
MEMBER: Committee of Concerned Journalists, New York Media Project, Harvard Club of New York City.
AWARDS, HONORS: Nieman fellowship, 1981-82; Pulitzer Prize, specialized reporting, 1987, for "The Fall of the House of Bingham" in the New York Times; "Ten Best Business Books of 1991" citation from Business Week, for The Patriarch: The Rise and Fall of the Bingham Dynasty; New York Times "notable book" citation, 1991, for The Patriarch; "five best nonfiction books of 1999" citation from Time magazine, 2000, for The Trust: The Private and Powerful Family behind the New York Times.
(With wife, Susan E. Tifft) The Patriarch: The Rise and Fall of the Bingham Dynasty, Summit Books (New York, NY), 1991.
(With Susan E. Tifft) The Trust: The Private and Powerful Family behind the New York Times, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1999.
Contributor to Brill's Content, Freedom Forum Media Studies Journal, Columbia Journalism Review, Nieman Reports, and American Journalism Review. Member of advisory board, Columbia Journalism Review.
SIDELIGHTS: Alex S. Jones is the director of the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy, a division of Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. A Pulitzer Prizewinning journalist himself, Jones is recognized as an authority on the media in both its print and electronic forms. Through his duties at the Shorenstein Center and his work as executive editor and host of Media Matters, a Public Broadcasting System (PBS) television show, Jones seeks to explain "how the press affects politics and public policy," as he told the Harvard Gazette.
From 1998 through 2000 Jones shared the Eugene C. Patterson Professorship of the Practice of Journalism with his wife, former Time magazine staff member Susan E. Tifft. Together Tifft and Jones have written two books, The Patriarch: The Rise and Fall of the Bingham Dynasty and The Trust: The Private and Powerful Family behind the New York Times. The Patriarch grew out of Jones's Pulitzer Prize-winning series for the New York Times on the Bingham family of Louisville, Kentucky, and their ownership of the highly respected Louisville Courier-Journal. The volume documents the intersection between the public business decisions and the private rivalries that ultimately tore the family apart and precipitated the sale of its various newspaper holdings. A Publishers Weekly reviewer described the work as an "enthralling, juicy, prodigiously researched saga" that abounds in "withering portrayals" of quarreling family members.
The Trust is a multigenerational history of the family behind the New York Times. Since 1896 members of the Ochs-Sulzberger family have owned and published the nation's best-known newspaper, passing the leadership from father to son through four generations. Through all that time, the newspaper has made its name on the quality of its journalism rather than catering to passing whim. While Tifft and Jones see much to admire in the continuing power and prestige of the New York Times, their account also details the difficulties besetting a single family dynasty seeking to maintain leadership for the periodical. A Business Week reviewer noted that The Trust "should stand as the definitive story of the Times for years to come." The reviewer added that Tifft and Jones "have produced a remarkable chronicle—a sprawling panorama spanning five generations. It encompasses countless power struggles, broken marriages, embarrassing infidelities, and other assorted dirty laundry. It also tells a story of power and endurance." Christopher B. Daly in TheAmerican Prospect likewise felt that the book "is certain to stand as the definitive work on the subject for a good long while," and noted that the authors supply "an air of suspense that lasts right up to the final chapter." And a Publishers Weekly contributor concluded that, after reading The Trust, "it's hard not to admire the ongoing effectiveness of an epic family institution in a world of new media upstarts and gargantuan corporate mergers."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Prospect, January 17, 2000, Christopher B. Daly, review of The Trust: The Private and Powerful Family behind the New York Times, p. 58.
Booklist, September 15, 1999, Vanessa Bush, review of The Trust, p. 198.
Business Week, October 4, 1999, "The Arthurian Legends: A Tale of the Times," p. 19.
Fortune, October 11, 1999, Andrew Ferguson, "News without Fear or Favor (or the Funnies)," p. 82.
Newsweek, September 27, 1999, Laura Shapiro, "All of the Family's News," p. 48.
New York Times Book Review, April 14, 1991, p. 1; September 26, 1999, Ron Chernow, "Who's In Charge Here," p. 8.
Publishers Weekly, February 8, 1991, Genevieve Stuttaford, review of The Patriarch: The Rise and Fall of the Bingham Dynasty, p. 42; August 23, 1999, review of The Trust, p. 35.
Time, April 29, 1991, William A. Henry III, review of The Patriarch, p. 74.
Washington Monthly, November, 1999, Nelson W. Polsby, review of The Trust, p. 52.
Harvard Gazette,http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/ (April 20, 2000), article about Jones with biography.*