Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

James M. Naughton, former president of Poynter Institute, dies at 73

James M. Naughton, who served as president of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies for seven years beginning in 1996, died late Saturday at his home in St. Petersburg.

In a career that spanned six decades, Mr. Naughton was known to many as a colleague, teacher, collaborator and mentor for Poynter staff and participants, and for many around the world who called him for advice.

Though he witnessed some of the 20th century's most momentous historical events and came to know well the politicians and other newsmakers he covered, he most enjoyed being around other journalists.

"I love being in the company of people who care about the written word, the oral word," Mr. Naughton said upon his retirement from the Poynter Institute. "I love the dark humor and a mix of skepticism and a self-effacing understanding of the role."

Mr. Naughton, 73, succumbed to an illness Saturday after having received hospice care, according to a message posted by his family to his Facebook page. He was just two days shy of his 74th birthday.

Information on memorial services will be available soon, the family said.

Mr. Naughton's career began in his junior year in high school at the Painesville Telegraph in Ohio, where he worked each summer from 1955 through 1960 as reporter, photographer, editor, editorial writer, copy editor and proofreader.

He was born in 1938 in Pittsburgh, raised in Cleveland, and graduated cum laude from the University of Notre Dame in 1960. He served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1960 to 1962. In 1969, he joined the New York Times as correspondent in the Washington bureau.

He was a pensive and serious newsman, but those who knew him attested to his unflagging sense of humor.

During a 1976 news conference, President Gerald Ford was taken aback when he saw Mr. Naughton donning a costume chicken head while seated among other journalists. Mr. Naughton later said he had wanted to attract the president's attention for a question, having grown tired of his stock campaign speech. The incident was the talk of the next day's news cycle, Mr. Naughton's friend and fellow newsman Tom Brokaw later recalled.

Mr. Naughton later worked as a national and foreign editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer during a time when the paper won 12 Pulitzer Prizes and emerged as one of the nation's best.

By the time he took the reins at the Poynter Institute in 1996, he had built a reputation as a tough and fair journalist.

The Poynter Institute, which owns the Tampa Bay Times, was established by Nelson Poynter before his death in 1978. To support it, Poynter left the institute his controlling stock in the newspaper and affiliated publications.

Mr. Naughton took over upon the retirement of Robert N. Haiman, who helped grow the institute from a modest operation in an old bank building in downtown St. Petersburg to a journalism school of international repute with more sumptuous digs at 801 Third St. S. Mr. Naughton sought to enhance the institute's success rather than overhaul the thriving operation.

"The very last thing I want to do is suggest radical change," he told a gathering of Poynter faculty and staff. "But we will not rest on our laurels."

Information from the Poynter Institute and Times archives was used in this report.

James M. Naughton, former president of Poynter Institute, dies at 73 08/11/12 [Last modified: Saturday, August 11, 2012 11:36pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Forecast: Drier pattern ending in Tampa Bay as front brings building rain chances throughout weekend

    Weather

    The drier, hot weather pattern across Tampa Bay will remain in place Friday before rain chances start to ramp up yet again through the weekend and into next week.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]
  2. Police investigating death of child in Largo

    Accidents

    LARGO — An investigation is underway into the death of a child Thursday night at a mobile home park and a 25-year-old man has been named as a suspect, the Largo Police Department said.

  3. Goodbye, iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle: Apple kills products as music moves to phones

    Science

    SAN FRANCISCO — The iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle have played their final notes for Apple.

    An iPod, iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle are displayed at an Apple store in New York in 2015. The company discontinued sales of the iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle on Thursday, July 27, 2017, in a move reflecting the waning popularity of the devices in an era when most people store or stream their tunes on smartphones. [Associated Press]
  4. Review: Sherman Alexie's 'You Don't Have to Say You Love Me' a moving mother-son memoir

    Books

    Grief has no timetable and abides by no map or pattern. Nor, despite the efforts of the most skilled storytellers, does it surrender to our narratives about it.

    LOVEIS WISE   |   Special to the Times
  5. Founder of Tampa home sharing platform questions Airbnb, NAACP partnership

    Business

    TAMPA — A Tampa rival to Airbnb, which was launched because of discrimination complaints on the dominant home sharing platform, has concerns about the new partnership between Airbnb and NAACP announced this week.

    Rohan Gilkes poses for a portrait at his home and business headquarters in Tampa. 

Innclusive, a Tampa-based start-up, is a home-sharing platform that focuses on providing a positive traveling experience for minorities. [CHARLIE KAIJO | Times]