Ray Moscowitz · 2002
By Jonna Kane
A native of St. Louis, Mo., Ray Moscowitz grew up in Los Angeles, miles away from the state where he would impact the lives of countless young journalists throughout the last half of the 20th century. He graduated from Hamilton High School, Santa Monica College and Los Angeles State University, earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1962.
He began his career with a 16-month stint as editor of The Student Statesman, a political newspaper aimed at college students with a circulation of 40,000. He was essentially a one-man show, producing the eight-page tabloid nearly single-handedly.
From there, he went to the Frankfort Morning Times for 17 months, leaving in 1965 to join the Dayton Journal Herald. Following four years at Dayton, where he was a reporter, copy editor, editorial writer and assistant city editor, Moscowitz returned to Frankfort to begin what would be a 29-year affiliation with Nixon Newspapers, Inc. (NNI).
During his nearly three decades with NNI, he served as managing editor of the Frankfort Times; executive editor for NNI, overseeing newsroom operations for 12 to 14 newspapers; editor of the Michigan City News Dispatch’ publisher of the Wabash Plain Dealer; publisher of the Peru Tribune and editorial director of Nixon Newspapers, Inc.
In his Hall of Fame nomination letter for Moscowitz, Craig Klugman, editor of the Ft. Wayne Journal Gazette, noted, “Ray has devoted his professional life to helping and improving small- and medium-sized newspapers in Indiana….He has served as a teacher and mentor for innumerable young reporters who started their careers at Nixon Newspapers throughout Indiana …. His people have worked for me as editorial writers, business writers, bureau reporters, metro columnists, feature writers and court writers. Every one of them knew not only the business, but also something more important: what is right and what is wrong. Their ethics were never in doubt and their professional behavior was always exemplary.”
His abilities as a teacher and mentor are widely known. Former employees often mention that they are graduates of “The Ray Moscowitz School of Journalism.” Its “alumni” include a former political writer for USA Today, a former bureau chief for U.S. News and World Report, and dozens of reporters and editors throughout the country. He has also formalized his teaching of journalism over the years by serving as a lecturer at Manchester College and Purdue North Central, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at IU-Kokomo.
In a supporting letter for Ray’s nomination to the Hall of Fame, John R. Nixon of John Nixon Enterprises said, “In thinking about Ray Moscowitz’s career at Nixon Newspapers, Inc., many things come to mind. Three stand out in particular:
- His leadership more than 30 years ago in significantly improving the quality and quantity of public affairs reporting at small daily news¬papers.
- His ability to recruit, train and develop entry-level people, many of whom went on to become award-winning editors, bureau chiefs and reporters on much larger newspapers.
- His own reporting for NNI of events that at the time dominated the national and international scenes.”
He went on to say, “Ray was not only a hands-on editor and teacher, but also a person who led by continually doing his own reporting and writing.
“When my brother Joe and I saw that a press tour of the Middle East was being arranged for May/June 1974, some seven months after the October 1973 war, we asked Ray to take part in the two-week journey. At the time, Ray was still the managing editor in Frankfort, and so he wound up representing the smallest newspapers among the 90 people in the tour. His work resulted in a 14-part series. Basil L. ‘Stuffy’ Walters, the great Hoosier editor who had retired to his native Clinton County, told my brother Joe and others that the articles were the best he had seen on the Middle East in the last 25 years, including the stories he had written in the mid-‘50s when he was editor of the Chicago Daily News.”
Merv Hendricks, director of student publications at Indiana State University and for¬mer managing editor of the Wabash Plain Dealer, likened Moscowitz to Walters in his nomination letter.
“Ray Moscowitz … was our Stuffy Walters. By ‘our,’ I refer to those dozens, yea, hundreds, of journalists who learned newspapering from Ray, he on the job in a newsroom, tie loosened, shirtsleeves rolled to his elbows, bounding like a pinball from desk to desk, zeal leaking from his veins, the love of newspapering left behind for any who would absorb it. Yes, for those of us who worked for Ray and learned from him at newspapers in Wabash, Frankfort, Peru, Michigan City, Winamac, North Judson and other towns, he was, is, our Stuffy Walters, an editor first to be sure, but also a mentor, a coach, a motivator, a supporter, a confidante, an adviser, a life’s friend.”
Walters was the subject of one of two books written by Moscowitz, Stuffy: The Life of Newspaper Pioneer Basil “Stuffy” Walters, was published in 1982 by the Iowa State University Press. His other book, Small School, Giant Dream: A Year of Hoosier High School Hoopla, was published by Littleguy Enterprises in 1990. He has also written mini-biographies of Merv Griffin and fellow Hoosier Jane Pauley.
In 1998, the Hoosier State Press Association created the Ray Moscowitz Award to recognize newspaper excellence “beyond the call of duty.” In 2001, Moscowitz received the Print Journalist of the Year Award from the Western Kentucky University School of Journalism and Broadcasting. He can now add the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame to his list of honors.