Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Miriam Burgess, Longtime Lifestyle Editor, Dies at 89

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Miriam Burgess, Longtime Lifestyle Editor, Dies at 89

Article excerpt

Miriam Burgess, who sharpened the focus and topicality of The Record's lifestyle pages and whose journalism career, interrupted by motherhood, spanned more than four decades, died Tuesday in Shreveport, La. She was 89.

Mrs. Burgess, formerly of Hackensack, was known professionally by various names, notably Miriam Taylor and Miriam Petrie.

Fresh out of Teaneck High School, where she was feature editor of the Te-Hi News, Miriam Stoll got a reporting job at the Bergen Evening Record.

"The story she told was she went to the newspaper's office and said she wanted to be a reporter, and the man in charge told her, "Nice girls don't do that,' " and sent her on her way, said Anne Taylor, the youngest of Mrs. Burgess's three daughters.

But Miriam, who had skipped college, kept asking to be hired and finally wore down the editor.

She left to raise a family and returned to the paper in 1961 as Miriam Petrie, Home and Family editor. She quickly put her stamp on the pages targeted to women readers.

"Having been married a couple of times and being a mother, Miriam had a true sensibility of what she, as a woman, would want to know about it. She was very astute," said Malcolm A. Borg, who joined the paper as a reporter-trainee in 1959 and is today chairman of North Jersey Media Group, which publishes The Record and the Herald News.

Borg said Mrs. Burgess brimmed with ideas about fashion, food and child-rearing coverage. She also was responsible for bringing the Ann Landers and Dear Abby advice columns to The Record. "The bosses in the newsroom didn't want to carry those kinds of syndicated columns in the paper," Borg said, but Mrs. Burgess convinced them.

Under Mrs. Burgess, Home and Family, which would become Lifestyle, tackled increasingly weighty issues, such as autism, substance abuse and women's liberation. In the 1995 book "On and Off The Record," a history of the newspaper's first 100 years, Mrs. Burgess said she was proudest of her section "really hitting the gut issues of life and using local sources and agencies to tell a story that everybody could understand.

"The woman in the comfortable house in Alpine could understand what some poor single mother was struggling with -- someone she might never otherwise brush up against, but who was part of her community," she added. …

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