Jack Nelson, former reporter for the Los Angeles Times, died Wednesday at the age of 80.
Jack Nelson, former reporter for the Los Angeles Times, died Wednesday at the age of 80. AP
Jack Nelson, one of the true giants of 20th century journalism who won a Pulitzer Prize and covered with distinction the civil rights movement in the 1960s and the Watergate scandal in the '70s, died this morning at his home in Bethesda, Md. He was 80 years old and had been suffering from pancreatic cancer.
In 1960, while at the Atlanta Constitution, he won a Pulitzer Prize for reporting on abuses in Georgia' mental institutions.
Jack left in 1965 to join the Los Angeles Times, and by all accounts he turned the Times into a major and widely-respected newspaper. Alabama-born and a Southerner to the core, he broke major stories on the civil rights movement, including the murder of Viola Liuzzo by the Ku Klux Klan in 1965 and the massacre of black students at South Carolina State College in Orangeburg in 1968. From the paper's Atlanta bureau, he covered the civil rights march in Selma; his reporting infuriated Alabama Gov. George Wallace, a staunch segregationist.
During the Watergate scandal, he discovered a link between the break-in at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee and the re-election campaign of President Nixon.
In 1975 he became Washington bureau chief for the Times, a position he held for more than two decades. In 1976, he was one of the panelists in final debate between President Gerald Ford and challenger Jimmy Carter.
He was also a wonderful man, who told the greatest stories in the most charming of ways. He will be sorely missed.
Click here for Elaine Woo's comprehensive obit in today's L.A. Times.