Magazine article Nieman Reports

James H. McCartney

Magazine article Nieman Reports

James H. McCartney

Article excerpt

James H. McCartney, a longtime Washington correspondent and columnist who specialized in foreign affairs and defense policy, died at his home in Florida on May 6th from cancer. He was 85.

During 33 years as a Washington journalist, he had datelines from more than 30 countries and covered every President from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Bill Clinton. He wrote about national security, national politics, and presidential campaigns. His coverage was published in 31 Knight Ridder newspapers, including The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Miami Herald, and the Detroit Free Press.

A native of St. Paul, Minnesota, McCartney was drafted into the U.S. Army while still in his teens. He was honorably discharged, with the rank of corporal, after being wounded shortly before World War II ended.

His wife, Molly Sinclair McCartney, NF '78, said that the six months he spent on the frontlines were "just a miserable experience ... It wasn't just the physical conditions that were awful, but it was the incompetence of the people running the operation."

After graduating from Michigan State University, where he was editor of the college newspaper, McCartney took a position at the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune. He later earned a master's degree at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. He was hired by the Chicago Daily News and in 1959 became a Washington correspondent for the paper.

Inspired in part, his family says, by his experiences during the war, he developed an interest in the Pentagon and State Department. …

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