Gene Roberts (journalist)

Last updated
Gene Roberts
Eugene Leslie Roberts Jr.

(1932-06-15) June 15, 1932 (age 88)
OccupationJournalist, professor of journalism
Notable credit(s)
The New York Times , The Philadelphia Inquirer ; books: The Race Beat (with Hank Klibanoff), The Censors and the Schools (with Jack Nelson), Assignment America (with David Jones), Leaving Readers Behind (with Thomas Kunkel and Charles Layton), Breach of Faith (with Thomas Kunkel)
TitleProfessor of Journalism, Philip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland
Spouse(s)Susan McLamb Roberts
ChildrenLeslie Roberts, Maggie Roberts, Elizabeth Roberts, Polly Roberts
Relativessister, Peggy Ellis; grandchildren, Emma Roberts Zevin; Wiley Roberts Guillot

Eugene Leslie Roberts Jr. (born June 15, 1932) [1] is an American journalist and professor of journalism. He has been a national editor of The New York Times , executive editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer from 1972 to 1990, and managing editor of The New York Times from 1994 to 1997. Roberts is most known for presiding over The Inquirer's "Golden Age", [2] a time in which the newspaper was given increased freedom and resources, won 17 Pulitzer Prizes in 18 years, [3] displaced The Philadelphia Bulletin as the city's "paper of record", and was considered to be Knight Ridder's crown jewel as a profitable enterprise and an influential regional paper. [4]



Roberts was born in Pikeville [5] in the Goldsboro, North Carolina Metropolitan Area. He grew up in North Carolina and worked for newspapers in Goldsboro, N.C.; Norfolk, Va.; Raleigh, N.C.; and Detroit. He covered the Kennedy Assassination in Dallas for the Detroit Free Press and subsequently covered the Civil Rights Movement as a correspondent for The New York Times, where he also served as Saigon bureau chief in 1968 during the Vietnam War. After serving as national editor at The Times from 1969 to 1972, he was hired by John S. Knight to head The Inquirer. He retired in 1990 and returned to the Times as managing editor from 1994 to 1998.

Roberts taught journalism from 1991 to 1994 and from 1998 to 2010 at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland.

He is on the board of directors of the Committee to Protect Journalists and served five years as its chairman; he has also served as chairman of the Pulitzer Prize Board, the International Press Institute, and the Board Of Visitors of the School of Communications at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Pulitzer Prizes

The Inquirer had never won any Pulitzer Prize (established 1917) before Roberts became executive editor but won them under his leadership. [6]


Roberts and Hank Klibanoff, managing editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution , won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for History recognizing their book The Race Beat as the year's best published in the U.S. [7] In it, Roberts and Klibanoff chronicled the civil rights struggle in America and the role the press played in bringing it to the forefront. The book's major contributions were an analysis of Gunnar Myrdal and Ralph Bunche's 1944 treatise, An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy , which had explained the problem of racial inequality and its possible resolution, and a close examination of the contribution of the black press to the Civil Rights Movement.[ citation needed ]

In 1980, he received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement. [8]

In 1984, Roberts was inducted into the N.C. Journalism Hall of Fame. [9]

Roberts received the National Press Club's Fourth Estate Award for Distinguished Contributions to Journalism in 1993. [10]

Roberts was awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine by the state of North Carolina on January 30, 2015.


Roberts earned an Associate degree from Mars Hill College in North Carolina. He went on to receive his B.A. in Journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1954 [9] and was later a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. [11]

Books as co-author or co-editor

Related Research Articles

<i>The Philadelphia Inquirer</i> American daily newspaper

The Philadelphia Inquirer is a public-benefit corporation that publishes a news website ( and two daily newspapers that serve the Philadelphia metropolitan area of the United States. The newspaper was founded by John R. Walker and John Norvell in June 1829 as The Pennsylvania Inquirer and is the third-oldest continually operating daily newspaper in the United States. Owned by The Lenfest Institute, a subsidiary of The Philadelphia Foundation, The Inquirer is the largest newspaper in the United States organized under nonprofit ownership. It has the 18th largest average weekday U.S. newspaper circulation and has won 20 Pulitzer Prizes. It is the newspaper of record in the Delaware Valley.

Pulitzer Prize for Public Service

The Pulitzer Prize for Public Service is one of the fourteen American Pulitzer Prizes annually awarded for journalism. It recognizes a distinguished example of meritorious public service by a newspaper or news site through the use of its journalistic resources, which may include editorials, cartoons, photographs, graphics, video and other online material, and may be presented in print or online or both.

<i>The Daily Pennsylvanian</i>

The Daily Pennsylvanian is the independent daily student newspaper of the University of Pennsylvania.

Richard Read is the Seattle bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times. A two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, he was a senior writer and foreign correspondent for The Oregonian, working for the Portland, Oregon newspaper from 1981 to 1986 and 1989 until 2016.

Ralph McGill

Ralph Emerson McGill was an American journalist, best known as an anti-segregationist editor and publisher of the Atlanta Constitution newspaper. He was a member of the Peabody Awards Board of Jurors, serving from 1945 to 1968. He won a Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing in 1959.

Jimmie Lee Hoagland is a Pulitzer prize-winning American journalist. He is a contributing editor to The Washington Post, since 2010, previously serving as an associate editor, senior foreign correspondent, and columnist.

Wendell Lee Rawls Jr. is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter and editor. His career spans 40 years in journalism and media, beginning in 1967 at The (Nashville) Tennessean.

The following are the Pulitzer Prizes for 1987.

Homer William Bigart was an American reporter who worked for the New York Herald Tribune from 1929 to 1955 and for The New York Times from 1955 to his retirement in 1972. He was considered a "reporter's reporter" and an "enduring role model." He won two Pulitzer Prizes as a war correspondent, as well as most of the other major journalism awards.

Harry Ashmore American journalist

Harry Scott Ashmore was an American journalist who won a Pulitzer Prize for his editorials in 1957 on the school integration conflict in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Donald L. Barlett is an American investigative journalist and author who often collaborates with James B. Steele. According to The Washington Journalism Review, they were a better investigative reporting team than even Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. Together they have won two Pulitzer Prizes, two National Magazine Awards and six George Polk Awards. In addition, they have been recognized by their peers with awards from Investigative Reporters and Editors on five separate occasions. They are known for their reporting technique of delving deep into documents and then, after what could be a long investigative period, interviewing the necessary sources. The duo has been working together for over 40 years and is frequently referred to as Barlett and Steele.

T. Christian Miller

T. Christian Miller is an investigative reporter, editor, author, and war correspondent for ProPublica. He has focused on how multinational corporations operate in foreign countries, documenting human rights and environmental abuses. Miller has covered four wars — Kosovo, Colombia, Israel and the West Bank, and Iraq. He also covered the 2000 presidential campaign. He is also known for his work in the field of computer-assisted reporting and was awarded a Knight Fellowship at Stanford University in 2012 to study innovation in journalism. In 2016, Miller was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism with Ken Armstrong of The Marshall Project. In 2019, he served as a producer of the Netflix limited series Unbelievable, which was based on the prize-winning article. In 2020, Miller shared the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting with other reporters from ProPublica and The Seattle Times. With Megan Rose and Robert Faturechi, Miller co-won the 2020 award for his reporting on United States Seventh Fleet accidents.

Hank Klibanoff

Hank Klibanoff is an American journalist, now a professor at Emory University. He and Gene Roberts won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for History for the book The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation.

Claude Fox Sitton was an American newspaper reporter and editor. He worked for The New York Times during the 1950s and 1960s, known for his coverage of the civil rights movement. He went on to become national news director of the Times and then editor of The News & Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Haynes Johnson American journalist

Haynes Bonner Johnson was an American journalist, author, and television analyst. He reported on most of the major news stories of the latter half of the 20th century and was widely regarded as one of the top American political commentators.

<i>The Race Beat</i> A Pulitzer Prize-winning book written in 2006 by journalists Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff.

The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation is a Pulitzer Prize-winning book written in 2006 by journalists Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff. The book is about the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, specifically about the role of newspapers and television. "Race Beat" refers to reporters whose beat reporting covered issues of race.

John Herbers

John N. Herbers was an American journalist, author, editor, World War II veteran, and Pulitzer Prize finalist.

Barbara Demick is an American journalist. She was the Beijing bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times. She is the author of Logavina Street: Life and Death in a Sarajevo Neighborhood. Her second book, Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, was published by Spiegel & Grau/Random House in December 2009 and Granta Books in 2010. An animated feature film based on the book and sharing the same title was planned to be directed by Andy Glynne. The project launched in 2012 and a pilot was released in 2015. Its status as of January 2018 is not clear.

Ray Sprigle was a journalist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1938 for his reporting that Hugo Black, newly appointed to the US Supreme Court, had been a member of the 20th-century Ku Klux Klan.

Robert Jon Rosenthal

Robert Jon "Rosey" Rosenthal is a journalist, former editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer and managing editor of the San Francisco Chronicle. Rosenthal currently holds the position of executive director of the Center for Investigative Reporting. He is known for his work as an investigative reporter and foreign correspondent. As an African correspondent for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Rosenthal won several journalism awards, including the Sigma Delta Chi Award for Distinguished Foreign Correspondence.


  1. For birthdate and full name, Library of Congress Authorities cites Contemporary Authors, which may be derived from earlier LC CIP data.
  2. Shapiro, Michael (2007). "Heartbreak on Wheels: The Philadelphia Inquirer". In Charles M. Madigan (ed.). 30: The Collapse of the Great American Newspaper (Hardback). Chicago: Ivan R. Lee. p. 156. ISBN   978-1-56663-742-8.
  3. Cauchon, Dennis (August 1, 1990). "Roberts to leave 'Inquirer'". USA Today.
  4. Williams, Marjorie (August 1, 1990). "Philadelphia Inquirer's Top Editor Resigns". The Washington Post.
  5. Schultz, Will. "Gene Roberts (1932-)". An Online Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2020-05-26.
  6. "The Pulitzer Prizes" . Retrieved 3 May 2011.
  7. "History". The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 2013-11-05.
  8. "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". American Academy of Achievement.
  9. 1 2 "Eugene Roberts". N.C. Media & Journalism Hall of Fame. 1984. Retrieved 2020-05-26.
  10. Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Board of Directors
  11. "Interview with Gene Roberts on". Archived from the original on 2007-06-13. Retrieved 2007-04-22.