William Lindsay White, 1900-1973: In the Shadow of His Father

By Marsh, Charles | Journalism History, Summer 1998 | Go to article overview
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William Lindsay White, 1900-1973: In the Shadow of His Father


Marsh, Charles, Journalism History


Jernigan, E. Jay. William Lindsay White, 19001973: In the Shadow of His Father. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997. 346 pp. $29.95.

In the past decade, innovative newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune have won praise for exploring alliances with television. Cross-training journalists in multimedia newsrooms is cutting edge stuff, no doubt, but William Lindsay White of the Emporia (Kan.) Gazette was doing it almost forty years ago.

W.L. White (1900-1973) was a versatile, gifted journalist. Editor and publisher of the Emporia Gazette, he built a cable-television operation in 1962 and began broadcasting from an expanded newsroom, using his newspaper staff as reporters. An early on-air guest was best-selling novelist and friend John Dos Passos, whom White urged to be candid in his assessment of Ernest Hemingway "since this won't get out of Emporia."

White held the free world's attention as he reported for CBS Radio during the Soviet Union's 1939 invasion of Finland. In 1940, be briefly substituted for Edward R. Murrow in London. and Eric Sevareid in Paris.He wrote Gazette editorials that won national attention, published frequently in the Reader's Digest, and wrote nonfiction best sellers that Hollywood turned into successful movies. Under White's leadership, the Gazette beat all other newspapers in the nation, regardless of circulation, in a 1960 design competition.

Yet White was best-known as the son of his father, William Allen White, adviser to presidents and the winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, famous as the Sage of Emporia. Thus, the somber subtitle of E. Jay Jernigan's detailed, highly readable biography is not surprising: In the Shadow of His Father.

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