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Home > SPJ News > Statement From the Society of Professional Journalists on the Death of Katharine Graham, a Beloved Giant in the Media Industry

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Statement From the Society of Professional Journalists on the Death of Katharine Graham, a Beloved Giant in the Media Industry


Contacts: Ray Marcano, SPJ president, 937/225-2323 or; James L. Gray, CAE, SPJ executive director, 317/927-8000 ext. 220 or

INDIANAPOLIS - The media profession will miss the leadership, inspiration and innovation of Katharine Graham, chairman of the executive committee of The Washington Post Co. and an extraordinary journalist.

Graham, 84 - who led The Washington Post through the publication of the 1971 Pentagon Papers and through the newspaper's investigation of the Watergate scandal - died today in Boise, Idaho. She died after falling Saturday on a concrete sidewalk and suffering head injuries.

"Katharine Graham was one of the giants of journalism," said SPJ President Ray Marcano, an assistant managing editor at the Dayton (Ohio) Daily news. "She was an inspiration to journalists across the county, and her leadership and dedication to the craft will be sorely missed."

Graham became the first woman to lead a Fortune 500 company when she took over the presidency of The Washington Post Co. in 1963. She also was the first woman to serve as a director of the Associated Press and the American Newspaper Publishers Group. Among her many accomplishments was winning a Pulitzer Prize for her 1997 autobiography, "Personal History."

In 1971, the Society named Graham an SPJ Fellow, the highest honor SPJ bestows upon a journalist. The honor is awarded for extraordinary contribution to the profession.

"Katharine Graham, I'm told, was the first female member of SPJ's Washington DC Pro Chapter," said Ann M. Augherton, president of the DC Pro Chapter. "She truly was a pioneer, a woman doing a man's job in an era when those types of first meant struggle and discrimination. Graham and other female journalists of that era cleared the way for women like myself to pursue a career in journalism. She will be greatly missed in Washington."

SPJ Executive Director James L. Gray sent a letter of condolence today to Donald Graham, Mrs. Graham's son and chairman of the board of The Washington Post Co.

"The loss of your mother is, in itself, tragic. The loss to American journalism creates a void that may never be filled," Gray wrote. "Many of our members were touched, influenced or employed by Katharine Graham. The impact she had on them lives on through their work and dedication to their craft. The influence she had on journalism in this country was, of course, extraordinary."

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