Journalism Pioneer Nancy Maynard Dies

Published September 23, 2008

Posted Sept. 23, 2008 – Nancy Maynard, who boldly went where no African-American news woman had gone before, died Sunday in Los Angeles after a long illness, Richard Prince reported in his online column Journal-isms. She was 61.

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Nancy Maynard, who along with her husband founded the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, became the first African-American to own a major daily newspaper in the United States when the couple purchased the financially strapped Oakland Tribune from Gannett.

As a young reporter, who worked for such dailies as the New York Post and New York Times, Nancy worked tirelessly to rectify the distorted images of African Americans in the media. While at the Times, she married a Black reporter for The Washington Post named Robert C. Maynard. After about two years, they both left their papers and headed West, where they cultivated a dream to establish a nonprofit institute to train young Black journalists. Their brainchild, the Institute for Journalism Education out of Berkeley, operated under the premise that newsrooms should "reflect the diversity of thought, lifestyle and heritage in our culture," as Maynard put it, according to The Oakland Tribune.

"It was a bold move for two people who were really on the rise in their careers at two of the best papers in the country to leave that security and get the institute going," Steve Montiel, one of eight other co-founders of the institute, told the Tribune. "[Nancy] was fearless, always very optimistic also about what could be achieved. She understood power and was able to get leaders in the industry and heads of companies to listen to what she had to say."

In 1983, the couple purchased the Tribune.

Citing Maynard’s obituary, Prince writes that “she is survived by her partner Jay T. Harris of Santa Monica, Calif.; mother Eve Keller of Riverdale, N.Y.; sister Barbara Guest of Prince George's County, Md.; brother Al Hall of White Plains, N.Y.: sons David Maynard of Los Angeles and Alex Maynard of Oakland; and daughter Dori J. Maynard of Oakland. Funeral services are pending. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, 1211 Preservation Parkway, Oakland, Calif., 94612.”

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Written by BET-Staff

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