Friday, November 28, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

John Seigenthaler | Journalist, 86

John Seigenthaler, 86, the journalist who edited the Tennessean newspaper, helped shape USA Today, and worked for civil rights during the Kennedy administration, died Friday at his Nashville home, his said his son, broadcast journalist John Seigenthaler Jr..

In his wide-ranging career, Mr. Seigenthaler also served on Robert Kennedy's presidential campaign and founded the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

Mr. Seigenthaler began his journalism career in 1949 as a reporter for the Nashville Tennessean. In 1960, he took a job as administrative assistant to Robert Kennedy, who became attorney general in 1961.

While working for Kennedy, Mr. Seigenthaler served as chief negotiator with the governor of Alabama during the 1961 Freedom Rides organized by civil rights activists seeking to integrate interstate buses. During that crisis, he was attacked and knocked unconscious by a mob of Klansmen in Montgomery, Ala., as he tried to aid a young protester who was being pursued.

In 1962, he returned to the Tennessean as editor, but took a leave of absence in 1968 to help Robert Kennedy's presidential campaign. He became publisher in 1972, and in 1989, he also became chairman and chief executive officer.

Also in the 1980s, he became the first editorial director as the Gannett Co., which owns the Tennessean, launched USA Today.

In April 2014, the City of Nashville and a rights group honored Mr. Seigenthaler for his lifelong commitment to victims' causes.

In addition to his son, he is survived by his wife, the former Dolores Watson, a professional singer. - AP


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