2006.06.16: June 16, 2006: Headlines: Figures: COS - Venezuela: Journalism: Publishing: Belleville News-Democrat: Alberto Ibarguen writes: Jack Knight understood the need to change with the times but he didn't see a need to adapt his principles

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Venezuela: Special Report: Miami Herald Publisher and Venezuela RPCV Alberto Ibargüen: February 9, 2005: Index: PCOL Exclusive: RPCV Alberto Ibargüen (Venezuela) : 2006.06.16: June 16, 2006: Headlines: Figures: COS - Venezuela: Journalism: Publishing: Belleville News-Democrat: Alberto Ibarguen writes: Jack Knight understood the need to change with the times but he didn't see a need to adapt his principles

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Alberto Ibarguen writes: Jack Knight understood the need to change with the times but he didn't see a need to adapt his principles

Alberto Ibarguen writes: Jack Knight understood the need to change with the times but he didn't see a need to adapt his principles

For Jack Knight, the news business was not all about business: "I'd be content with a few dollars less, and this would be bound by the satisfaction of my pride. I'd rather be known as the man who had a good newspaper - readable, lively, well illustrated, up to date - than the guy who had the paper they said, `He's the fellow that makes the most money.' That's the difference." Alberto Ibarguen was publisher of the Miami Herald and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Venezuela in the 1960's.

Alberto Ibarguen writes: Jack Knight understood the need to change with the times but he didn't see a need to adapt his principles

Spirit of independence must survive

BY ALBERTO IBARGUEN
Knight Ridder Newspapers

John S. Knight died 25 years ago (June 16). This is a good time to reflect on his values as we stand, ironically, nine days before the end of Knight Ridder and during the week when Knight Foundation committed to give away its one billionth dollar in charitable contributions.

Like a lot of you, I never met Jack Knight - purchaser of the Miami Herald in 1937, founder of Knight Newspapers and later Knight Ridder, winner of the 1968 Pulitzer Prize for his "Editor's Notebook" columns opposing the Vietnam War. But I was fortunate to spend years in Jack Knight's old office on the fifth floor of The Miami Herald and thought a lot about how Jack and Jim Knight ran their papers.

They believed in their communities and understood that they were each different, one from the other. The brothers believed that good journalism was the best way to guarantee business success.

Jack Knight understood the need to change with the times but he didn't see a need to adapt his principles. In a revealing interview he gave not long before his death to reporter Dan Neuharth, he looked back on one of the 20th century's most distinguished careers and said, with pride and Midwestern directness, "I'm an individualist. I know what I know, I know what I think. I'm not afraid of anybody. I have my own code, how I live, and I live up to it."

And added: "Who likes me and who doesn't like me? What difference does that make? I want to have a reputation as being fair and honorable and doing the right thing, printing good newspapers, of being objective and opinionated."

I think he'd say that the end of the newspaper company that he founded is certainly not the end of the journalism in which he believed. He said: "I hope I haven't given you the impression that I'm bleak on the prospects of journalism. I'm not. I think it's a changing profession. I think that it's still rewarding people of talent on both sides, whether it's editorial or management."

For Jack Knight, the news business was not all about business: "I'd be content with a few dollars less, and this would be bound by the satisfaction of my pride. I'd rather be known as the man who had a good newspaper - readable, lively, well illustrated, up to date - than the guy who had the paper they said, `He's the fellow that makes the most money.' That's the difference."

Jack Knight was no fan of Wall Street and met with stock analysts only once in his life, telling them that if they didn't like the way he ran Knight Newspapers, they were welcome to buy another company's stock. We're light-years from the time when a newspaper publisher could say that without causing a run on the stock of his company, and you could even argue that such a statement today might be a reckless challenge to the power of institutional investors who own large chunks of those news companies.

But we still admire his spirit of independence, and that spirit of independence must be at the core of any truly worthy news organization.

When Knight Ridder ceases to exist on June 27 at 4 p.m., I trust that spirit of independence will live on in the hearts and minds of Knight journalists and Ridder journalists, of McClatchy journalists and journalists of all sorts on every kind of platform.

The function that Knight newspapers performed in Jack Knight's era still needs doing, to inform the community and to "bestir the people into an awareness of their own condition, provide inspiration for their thoughts and rouse them to pursue their true interests."

Inevitably, people who stand for good things and the companies they started in order to do good things pass away. The question for the survivors is always the same: Do we remember them? Do we honor them by believing in the best of what they believed, by carrying their good causes forward? The answer should always be Yes.

In pursuit of that legacy, we've added to this month's memorials a milestone of a different kind, also brought to you by the Knight brothers. During the past 56 years, Knight Foundation has given away $1 billion. And we'll keep looking for the opportunities to improve journalism worldwide and community life in Miami and other Knight cities.

At Knight Foundation, we honor the memory of Jack and Jim Knight by looking for ways to rouse people "to pursue their true interests" in the communities where the brothers owned newspapers. And we seek to help great journalism better "bestir the people into an awareness of their own condition."

---

ABOUT THE WRITER

Alberto Ibarguen is president of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation (www.knightfdn.org) and a former publisher of The Miami Herald, a Knight Ridder newspaper. He wrote this for the Miami Herald.





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Story Source: Belleville News-Democrat

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Figures; COS - Venezuela; Journalism; Publishing

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