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Roberts, Gene 1932- (Eugene Leslie Roberts, Jr.)

Roberts, Gene 1932- (Eugene Leslie Roberts, Jr.)


Born June 15, 1932, in Goldsboro, NC; son of Eugene L. and Margaret Roberts; married Susan Jane McLamb; children: Leslie Jane, Margaret Page, Elizabeth Susan, Polly Ann. Education: Attended Mars Hill College, 1950-52; University of North Carolina, A.B., 1954; attended Harvard University, 1960-62; Colby College, LL.D.


Office—1117 Journalism Bldg., University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742-711.


Journalist, editor, and writer. Goldsboro News-Argus, Goldsboro, NC, governmental reporter, 1956-58; Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk, VA, governmental and maritime reporter, 1958-59; Raleigh News & Observer, Raleigh NC, state capitol correspondent, 1959-61, Sunday editor, 1962-63; Detroit Free Press, Detroit, MI, labor writer, 1963-64, city editor, 1964-65; New York Times, New York, NY, chief Southern correspondent, 1965-67, war correspondent in South Vietnam, 1968-69, national editor, 1969-72, managing editor, c. 1994-97; Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, PA, executive editor, 1972-90; Philadelphia Newspapers, Inc., Philadelphia, PA, vice president, 1972-80, senior vice president, 1980-86, president, 1986-90; University of Maryland, College Park, MD, journalism professor, 1991-94, 1997—. Career related activities include member of Pulitzer Prize board, Columbia University, 1982-91, chairman, 1989-90; chairman of American committee, International Press Institute, 1987-93, international board, 1990; chairman, national advisory board of United Press International (UPI), Washington, 1986-91; board of visitors, School Journalism University of Maryland, 1983-91, and School of Journalism, Pennsylvania State University, 1983-89; chairman of the board of visitors School of Journalism, University of North Carolina, 1989-91; chairman of the board of directors, Knight Center for Specialized Journalism, University of Maryland, 1987-91; board of visitors, University of Michigan Journalist-in-Residence program; board of governors, Columbia University Seminars and News Media on Society, Graduate School of Journalism; board of advisors, Center for Foreign Journalists, 1987; board of directors, World Press Freedom Committee, 1986-93; board of directors, Arthur Burns Fellowship, 1990; chairman, Woods Hole science writing fellowship, Marine Biology Laboratory, 1993-95; board of directors, Universal Press Syndicate, 1992-94; vice chairman, Committee to Protect Journalists, 1995. Military service: U.S. Army, 1954-56; served as agent in Counter Intelligence Corps.


American Society of Newspaper Editors, Society of Professional Journalists, Cosmos Club, American Antiquarian Society, North Caroliniana Society, Sigma Delta Chi, Theta Chi.


North Carolina State Press Association award, 1957, for feature writing; Virginia State Press Association award, 1958, for news writing; Nieman fellowship, 1962; Michigan State Press Association award, 1964, for news reporting; named United States editor of the year by the National Press Photographers Association, 1979; William Allen White award, University of Kansas, 1985; John Peter Zenger award for Freedom of Press, University of Arizona, 1987; Distinguished Contributions to Journalism award, National Press Foundation, 1989; Elijah Parish Lovejoy award for Freedom of the Press, 1989; Distinguished Achievement in Journalism award, University of Southern California, 1989; Reuben award for Distinguished Contributions to Newspaper Features, 1991; Fourth Estate award, National Press Club, 1993; Columbia Journalism award, Columbia University, 1996; Richard M. Clurman Award, Mollie Parnis Livingston Foundation, 2006; Pulitzer Prize for history, Goldsmith Book Prize, Harvard University, Frank Luther Mott Research Book of the Year Award, Kappa Tau Alpha journalism honor society, book of the year award, American Journalism Association, all 2007, all for The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation. Recipient of honorary degrees from Colby College, University of Michigan, Mars Hill College, and Ann Arbor.


(With Jack Nelson) The Censors and the Schools, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1963, reprinted, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1977.

(Editor, with David R. Jones) Assignment America, New York Times Co. (New York, NY), 1974.

(Editor-in-chief) Leaving Readers Behind: The Age of Corporate Newspapering, general editors Thomas Kunkel and Charles Layton, University of Arkansas Press (Fayetteville, AR), 2001.

(Editor-in-chief) Breach of Faith: A Crisis of Coverage in the Age of Corporate Newspapering, general editor Thomas Kunkel, University of Arkansas Press (Fayetteville, AR), 2002.

(With Hank Klibanoff) The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation, Knopf (New York, NY), 2007.

Contributor to periodicals, including the New York Times, South Atlantic Quarterly, True, and Nieman Reports.


Gene Roberts was a longtime journalist and editor who worked at both the New York Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer before retiring to become a professor of journalism at the University of Maryland. During his time at the Philadelphia Inquirer, beginning in 1972, the newspaper received six Pulitzer Prizes. Earlier he covered the civil rights movement in the South, labor negotiations in Detroit, and the war in Vietnam. In 2007, Roberts won his own Pulitzer Prize along with coauthor Hank Klibanoff for their book, The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation.

In The Race Beat, Roberts and Klibanoff explore the evolution of the nation's press and its reporters from largely ignoring problems of race in the United States to recognizing the importance of the civil rights struggle of the 1950s and 1960s. "I think it was the most important domestic story of the 20th century, and the press was a large part of that story," Roberts noted in an interview in Editor & Publisher. The authors begin their story with writer Gynnar Myrdal's 1944 book An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy, which highlighted the extent of racism in the South. They go on to discuss the work of black reporters focusing on civil rights issues and the eventual interest of white reporters as they came to recognize the importance of this issue.

In a review of The Race Beat in the Library Journal, Karl Helicher noted that "the authors present fascinating accounts of editors and reporters—famous and little known, black and white, liberal and reactionary." Booklist contributor Vanessa Bush commented that Roberts and Klibanoff "demonstrate the profound changes the movement wrought not only on U.S. social justice but also on American journalism." Several reviewers also commended the authors for the attention they paid to the black journalists and editors of the time, many of who have gone largely unnoticed and unheralded. Noting in the New York Times Book Review that the authors provide "incisive portraits of black editors," Raymond Arsenault went on to write in the same review: "Their stories, and the fateful choices of a not-so-distant past, are worth pondering in an imperfect democracy still grappling with both the burdens of race and the responsibilities of a free press."

Roberts also served as editor-in-chief of Breach of Faith: A Crisis of Coverage in the Age of Corporate Newspapering. Under the general editorial direction of Thomas Kunkel, the book presents essays by journalists focusing on how journalistic coverage has been hindered by corporate interests and economic concerns. For example, many of the essays discuss how coverage of important issues like government and politics has been replaced by "lighter" journalism largely covering personal issues. Vanessa Bush, writing in Booklist, called Breach of Faith "incisive analyses of a troubling trend." A Publishers Weekly contributor commented: "Jschool students and media policy makers will benefit greatly from this wise collection."



America, February 12, 2007, Gene Roman, review of The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation, p. 20.

American Editor, June, 1996, Kenneth H. Brief, "Editor Leads Times with Own Time Limit," p. 39.

American Journalism Review, January 1, 1995, Alicia C. Shepard, "The Inquirer's Midlife Crisis," p. 18; May, 2001, Thomas Kunkle, "Mr. Roberts' Project," p. 4; June 1, 2007, Thomas Kunkle, "A Pulitzer of His Own: And a Reminder of Journalism's True Mission," p. 4.

American Prospect, December, 2006, David Greenberg, "Heroes, Weren't They?," p. 53.

Biography, spring, 2007, Raymond Arsenault, review of The Race Beat.

Black Issues Book Review, March-April, 2007, C. Gerald Fraser, review of The Race Beat, p. 26.

Booklist, December 15, 2002, Vanessa Bush, review of Breach of Faith: A Crisis of Coverage in the Age of Corporate Newspapering, p. 709; November 15, 2006, Vanessa Bush, review of The Race Beat, p. 8.

Books, January 7, 2007, Eric Arnesen, "A Gripping Account of Civil Rights and the Press," review of The Race Beat, p. 3.

Book World, November 26, 2006, Jonathan Yardley, "Two Journalists Recall the Reporters Who Covered Some of the Nation's Most Hard-fought Battles," p. 2.

Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, November 28, 2006, David J. Garrow, review of The Race Beat, p. 3.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, May, 2007, R. Cathcart, review of The Race Beat, p. 1529.

Columbia Journalism Review, March-April, 2003, James Boylan, review of Breach of Faith, p. 57; November 1, 2006, David K. Shepard, "The Desegregation Drama: The White News Media Came Late to the Scene. But When They Finally Did Arrive, the Battle Was Joined," p. 91.

Crisis, November-December, 2006, Vern E. Smith, review of The Race Beat, p. 46.

Editor & Publisher, December 4, 1993, Thomas Winship, "Offering Some Tough Advice," p. 25; April 17, 2007, "Gene Roberts Comments on Winning Pulitzer—for a Book This Time."

H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online, April, 2007, Jeanette McVicker, review of The Race Beat.

Library Journal, November 15, 2006, Karl Helicher, review of The Race Beat, p. 79.

Library Quarterly, July, 2002, Catherine McKercher, review of Leaving Readers Behind: The Age of Corporate Newspapering, p. 394.

Newsweek, November 27, 2006, David Gates, "To Capture a Movement; Civil Rights, Violence and the Power of the Press," p. 57.

New York, April 25, 1994, Jon Katz, "The Return of the Native," p. 26.

New York Times Book Review, January 21, 2007, Raymond Arsenault, "The News from Little Rock," p. 22.

Nieman Reports, winter, 2002, Frank A. Blethen, "The Consequences of Corporate Ownership: ‘Our Democracy Is in Crisis from the Loss of Independent Voices Serving as Its Watchdog,’" p. 91; summer, 2007, Mary C. Curtis, "The Civil Rights Struggle and the Press: A Book Revisits the Time When Only a Few Brave Voices in the Southern Press Stood up against the Many ‘that Supported and Often Led Massive Resistance to Change,’" p. 71.

Philadelphia, June, 1991, John B. Anderson, "The Kingdom and the Money," p. 60; July, 1991, John B. Anderson, "Brave New Inquirer," p. 78.

Publishers Weekly, October 28, 2002, review of Breach of Faith, p. 60; September 11, 2006, review of The Race Beat, p. 42.

Quill, June, 1991, Edmund B. Lambeth, "Gene Roberts: Leading the Way to the Standard for Contemporary Prize-winning Journalism," p. 14.

Reference & Research Book News, February, 2003, review of Breach of Faith, p. 220.

Virginia Quarterly Review, spring, 2003, review of Breach of Faith, p 63.

Washington Post, April 17, 2007, Howard Kurtz, "Wall Street Journal Takes Two Pulitzer Prizes: University of Maryand's Oberts Wins in History Category, Post Has Five Finalists."

ONLINE, (November 19, 2007), "Interview with Gene Roberts—Feb. 2001."

SourceWatch, (November 19, 2007), profile of author.

University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism, (April 16, 2007), "Prof. Gene Roberts Wins Pulitzer Prize"; faculty profile of author.

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