Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Knight and newspaper history

25 years ago last week, John S. Knight died. The newspaper chain he created after inheriting the Akron paper from his father, Knight Newspapers, had merged with Ridder and gone public about 15 years earlier. It was a week or so later that I went to work for his flagship paper, the one where he kept an office and which housed the KR corporate headquarters, The Miami Herald.

Now his company, after moving to California, is going away, too, becoming just another blip in journalism history, like Knight himself, and his brother James who ran the business.

But Knight was a special man with great values and it's worth remembering those. The Akron Beacon-Journal, Knight's hometown paper and the family's first, has a 1978 interview with Knight, in several parts with MP3s available.

Knight was his own kind of executive:
I belong to the "Hey, Joe" school. I pick up the first edition of the Beacon Journal in the morning and I see something, I run up in the newsroom and say, "Hey, Joe, for Christ's sake, get that straightened out." See. I like that. I don't want to write somebody a long memorandum. Arrange a conference sometime. Discuss it. I like the direct action. We don't get that anymore. Don't ask me why.

Also on Knight, Knight Foundation president and former Miami Herald publisher Alberto Ibarg├╝en, Spirit of Independence:
This is a good time to reflect on his values as we stand, ironically, nine days before the end of Knight Ridder and during the week when the Knight Foundation committed to give away its 1 billionth dollar in charitable contributions.

The company and its history may go away, but the Foundation is doing some great work in journalism, among other areas. The latest: The Carnegie-Knight Initative on the Future of Journalism Education. The Knight name is all over new media and new journalism.

In more journalism history, the Knight Foundation is highlighting a dedication to late Oakland Tribune owner Robert Maynard, who, before he went to Oakland, was one of the journalists I admired at the Washington Post so many years ago.

Speaking of the Post, fascinating history of the Post's Web initiative, started with a memo from Bob Kaiser in 1992.....

(Via Romenesko.)


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