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Harold E. Martin

Harold Eugene Martin (October 4, 1923 – July 4, 2007)[1] was a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper editor and publisher who also served as a director of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. During his career, Martin lived in the U.S. states of Alabama, New York, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Texas.

Martin won the Pulitzer in 1970 as the editor of the morning Montgomery Advertiser and the afternoon Alabama Journal. The Pulitzer Prize for Local Investigative Specialized Reporting recognized a series of articles that exposed the use by pharmaceutical companies of state prisoners as subjects in drug experimentation and as sources of blood plasma.[2] Martin hired two detectives to help him gather the information, but he also had an inside source within the prison system. The revelations brought about a shakeup of the state corrections department under then rival Governors Albert Brewer and George C. Wallace, Jr.[3]

At the Montgomery Advertiser, Martin also opposed Governor Wallace's segregationist policies. An irate Wallace cancelled state advertising in the newspaper by the public-owned liquor business, an action which may have cost the company as much as $500,000. "Harold Martin never flinched," recalled Ray Jenkins, the Advertiser's former executive editor.[4]

Martin was born to Rufus John Martin and the former Emma Meadows in Cullman, the seat of Cullman County in northern Alabama. The family moved to Birmingham, the state's largest city, where Martin graduated from Phillips High School and was a newspaper copy reader. He served in the United States Marine Corps during World War II.[4]

Martin procured a bachelor of arts degree in 1954 from Baptist-affiliated Samford University in Homewood, a suburb of Birmingham. At the time Samford was known as "Howard College". In 1961, he taught two advanced journalism courses -- advertising and libel law—at his alma mater Howard. He was named Howard's "Alumnus of the Year" in 1970, after he won his Pulitzer Prize.[5]

In 1956, Martin received his master of arts at the private Syracuse University in Syracuse, the seat of Onondaga County in central New York. Thereafter he was the assistant business manager for the Syracuse Herald from 1957–1958. He maintained ties to Syracuse for many years, having served on the board of the School of Public Communications.[5]

The Martins moved to St. Louis in 1958, where he was named assistant production manager of the defunct St. Louis Globe-Democrat. Martin then returned to Birmingham, where in 1960, he became assistant general manager of the Birmingham News. In 1963, he accepted the co-publisher's position with the Montgomery Advertiser in the state capital. He was named editor in 1967.[5]

Over the years, Martin served on many boards, including that of Virginia Military Institute in Lexington and the Alabama Baptist state denominational newspaper. A member of the Southern Baptist denomination since childhood, Martin served for twenty years with the Graham Association, now based in Charlotte, North Carolina.[6]

On November 25, 1945, Martin married the former Jean Elizabeth Wilson of Goldsboro, North Carolina. In the 1970s, the couple co-owned The Herald Citizen daily newspaper in Cookeville in Putnam County in northern Tennessee; The News-Observer weekly in Crossett in Ashley County in southern Arkansas, and The Baxter Bulletin weekly in Mountain Home in Baxter County in northern Arkansas.[5] In 1973, the Baxter Bulletin, the largest weekly newspaper in Arkansas, was named by the Newspaper Enterprise Association as "Best Overall Weekly Newspaper in the United States" in the over 10,000-circulation category.[6]

In 1980, Martin was named president of Jefferson-Pilot Publications and simultaneously the publisher of the Beaumont Enterprise and Beaumont Journal in Jefferson County in southeast Texas. In that capacity, Martin oversaw the operations of some twenty-five other newspapers, including dailies, Laredo Morning Times in Laredo, Texas, the Galveston County Daily News in Texas City, Clearwater Sun in Clearwater, Florida, and Altus Times in Altus in Jackson County in southwestern Oklahoma, plus five weekly community newspapers in Jefferson and nearby Hardin counties near Beaumont, six Oklahoma weeklies, and ten Florida weeklies."[7]

Martin retired in 1985, when Jefferson-Pilot Publications was sold to the Hearst Corporation. He retired to Bedford in Tarrant County near Fort Worth. Thereafter, he assisted the Methodist Church in the reorganization of its publishing operation in Fort Worth. As a hobby, Martin raised and showed Tennessee Walking Horses and owned a champion pony.[6]

Martin died in Bedford of cancer and Alzheimer's disease. In addition to his wife, he was survived by their daughter, Anita Luce of Keller in Tarrant County; their son, Brian E. Martin of Aubrey in Denton County, and seven grandchildren. An older son, Gary Martin, preceded his father in death.[6]

See also


  • "Newspaperman Harold Martin dies at 83", Hearst Newspapers, Laredo Morning Times, July 6, 2007
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