March 9, 2011

David Broder, Maroon editor and famed journalist, dies

Known as the dean of political writers, David S. Broder (A.B. '47, A.M. '51) died at the age of 81 today from complications of diabetes.

Broder, who left The New York Times in 1966 to write for the Washington Post as an op-ed contributor, had a syndicated column that appeared in over 300 newspapers during his career as a journalist, which started at the Chicago Maroon. He won the 1973 Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary, when the Post was covering Watergate.

A statement by the Washington Post today described Broder as one of the "great political reporters of his era." Broder's arrival to the Post, the statement continues, "in many ways marked the beginning of the Post's evolution into a great newspaper. In the decades since, David's integrity, fairness, wisdom and curiosity served as a model for us all... he certainly can never be replaced."

Considered one of the most widely read columnists in the United States, Broder was known especially for his political writing, having covered every presidential campaign since the 1956 Eisenhower-Stevenson race. He also made guest appearances on Meet the Press over 400 times, far more than anyone else in the program's history.

Broder started his journalism career at the U of C, where he was the editor of the Maroon. Upon news of receiving the University's Alumni Medal in 2005, the highest honor the Alumni Association can bestow, Broder said, "[The University of Chicago] taught me to read and to write and to think. It also taught me all the basics of journalism through working on the Maroon. I owe them damn near everything."

Broder was a rare journalist who walked the line between opinion writing and news reporting. According to The New York Times, Broder once crossed the line in 1976, when prematurely wrote that Morris K. Udall was victorious at the Wisconsin Democratic primary. Jimmy Carter was announced the primary's official winner a few hours later, which prompted Broder to submit his resignation. The Post's editor, Benjamin Bradlee, convinced Broder to stay on staff.

He met his wife, Ann C. Broder (A.B. '48, A.M. '51) while working at the Maroon, and the two later created the Ann C. and David S. Broder Professorship Fund at the University. He is survived by Ann, their four sons and seven grandchildren.

Broder was born in Chicago Heights, IL on September 11, 1929. He earned his degrees in political science and started writing professionally for The Pantagraph, a newspaper in Bloomington, IL. He left for The Congressional Quarterly in 1955, and then for The Washington Star in 1960. His 15-month stint at The New York Times began in 1965.

He wrote and co-wrote seven books and held honorary degrees from over a dozen Universities.