Who was Newsweek magazine’s first black editor?

In 1998 Mark Whitaker (1957–) became the first black editor of a major news weekly in the United States when he became editor of Newsweek. Whitaker, a Norton, Massachusetts, native, graduated from Harvard University in 1979. During the early 1980s he attended Balliol College at Oxford University as a Marshall Scholar. As early as 1977 he became associated with Newsweek, working as a reporting intern in the San Francisco office. In 1981 Whitaker became a stringer for the bureaus in Boston, Washington, and Paris. He became a full-time staff member in 1981, and worked with the New York City office. Whitaker became business editor for Newsweek in 1987, just in time to report on the stock market crash of that year. Then he reported on such scandals as insider trading and the savings-and-loan crisis. Whitaker was promoted again in 1991 when he was named assistant managing editor; he oversaw the publication of special issues, such as those devoted to the Olympics and the first inauguration of Bill Clinton as President of the United States. Whitaker was named editor of the magazine on November 10, 1998, and was the first black to hold such an influential position with a national weekly news magazine. Although he is interested in racial matters in this country, he has downplayed the issue of race in his selections and his work. He left that post in 2006 and became vice president and editor-in-chief of New Ventures at the Washingtonpost. Newsweek Interactive. In 2007 he was named senior vice president of NBC News and Washington bureau Chief for NBC News, succeeding Tim Russert when Russert died. Whitaker became one of NBC’s two highest-ranking black executives. In February 2011, he became executive vice president and managing editor for CNN Worldwide.


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