Journalist Nancy Hicks Maynard Dies
Monday, September 22, 2008
(09-21) 16:55 PDT LOS ANGELES - -- Nancy Hicks Maynard, a journalist and pioneering advocate for diversifying America's newsrooms, died Sunday in Los Angeles of organ failure. She was 61.
A powerhouse in journalism circles, Ms. Maynard, along with her husband, Robert C. Maynard, owned and co-published the Oakland Tribune from 1983 to 1992. The paper remains the only major metropolitan daily to have ever been black-owned.
Her advocacy extended beyond the newsroom as she and her husband helped found the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education in Oakland. She became its president and trained generations of reporters and editors on how to bring people of color into all ranks of the news-making process, and how to cover stories in such a way that many points of view were included.
She launched the groundbreaking JobNet placement service for minority journalists and mentored countless young reporters.
"She brought a unique perspective to those early days: On many of our problems, she was the one who came up with outside-the-box solutions," said retired Akron Beacon Journal Publisher John L. Dotson Jr., who added a comment to a memorial page on the Maynard Institute Web site.
"She was a fearless, astute champion of diversity in news media, and an early advocate of new business models incorporating digital media, always pushing us to be proactive," wrote A. Steve Montiel, a former president of the institute. "We've lost a leader who made a difference."
During her reporting career, Ms. Maynard covered Robert F. Kennedy's funeral, campus takeovers at Columbia and Cornell, the Apollo missions, Watergate jury duty, and the hearing on and passage of Title IX.
Her first job, after graduating from Long Island University in 1966, was as a copygirl at the New York Post. Two years later, she became the first black female reporter at the New York Times. She was also the youngest in the newsroom.
During this time she met Robert Maynard, who was a reporter for the Washington Post. They married in 1975. Together they bought the struggling Oakland Tribune from Gannett Co. in 1983. They sold it when Robert Maynard was struggling with prostate cancer in 1992. He died in 1993.
In her later years, Ms. Maynard turned her attention to business and public speaking. She graduated from Stanford Law School and created a media consulting company, Maynard Partners Inc. She served as a director, consultant or speaker for numerous organizations, including the Freedom Forum, the Public Broadcasting Service, Vivendi Prospective, the Knight Foundation and the Tribune Co.
In 2000, she published her first book: "Mega Media: How Market Forces Are Transforming News."
When asked how to diversify newsrooms in a 2001 interview with the Center for Integration and Improvement of Journalism, Ms. Maynard said: "The issue is a power relationship with journalism groups having their say about what story is important in America. Who gets to tell 'America's story'? To diversify news coverage, there should be training of those of color to do various jobs in the newsroom. There should be more work in the news institutions to create an environment where people of color are not only welcomed, but are also valued."
Ms. Maynard is survived by her partner, Jay T. Harris; sons David Maynard and Alex Maynard; and daughter Dori Maynard.
Funeral services are pending.