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Ben-Hur

Ben-Hur "Ben" Baddikian

(1920-2016) ~ Inducted 2017

Ben Bagdikian, a major American journalist, had long and significant ties to Rhode Island. As a young man he worked for the Pro^^'ide'nce Journal for 15 years from 1947 to 1962. As an “on-the-spot” reporter he rode on an Israeli tank during the Suez Crisis, covered the civil rights struggle including the Little Rock, Arkansas school integration battle, and he traveled through the South with a black reporter in 1957 writing articles on segregation that won an award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews. In 1953, Bagdikian and several other Journal reporters shared a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of a bold East Providence robbery and hostage standoff that took the life of a police officer. Bagdikian was born on January 30, 1920 in present-day Turkey. When he was an infant, his family ^ed what has been called the Armenian Genocide and came to America. After graduation from Clark University in Worcester, Bagdikian became a journalist. His productive career with the Pro^~ide^ce Jo'ur^al was followed by a position with the Washington Post. In that capacity, whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg gave him portions of the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret, classified account of our involvement in Vietnam. Bagdikian provided a copy of these controversial documents to U.S. Senator Michael Gravel who promptly read them into the Congressional Record. In 1976, Bagdikian joined the journalism faculty at the University of California, Berkeley, a school that had spawned many political and social protests. Eventually he became the dean of the university's School of Journalism retiring from that post in 1990. He resided in Berkeley until his death on March 11, 2016 at the age of 96. Bagdikians major contribution to the increasingly significant field of print and broadcast journalism has been his prominent role as media critic. In 1983, he published a highly-influential book entitled The Media Monopoly, which exposed the rapid growth of media consolidation that was putting more and more media businesses in fewer and fewer hands with each new merger or acquisition. This seminal book was updated by Bagdikian in six editions through the year 2000 before being retitled T^e Ne^ Media Mo^no-pol^. This work has earned him the Peabody Award (broadcastings Pulitzer), a Citation of Merit as “Journalisms Most Perceptive Critic” from the American Society of Journalism School Administrators, and the James Madison Award of the American Library Association Coalition on Government Information. Fittingly Bagdikian has received honorary degrees from his alma mater, Clark University, and also from our own Brown University and the University of Rhode Island. Today we accord him another well-deserved honor — election to the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame.


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