Jack Nelson

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John Howard "Jack" Nelson (born October 11, 1929 in Talladega - died October 21, 2009 in Bethesda, Maryland) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist praised for his coverage of the Watergate scandal and described by New York Times managing editor Gene Roberts as "one of the most effective reporters in the civil rights era."

Nelson's father ran a fruit store during his childhood, which coincided with the Great Depression. He moved with his family to Georgia and eventually to Biloxi, Mississippi, where he graduated from Notre Dame High School in 1947.

He then began his journalism career at the Biloxi Daily Herald, where he earned the nickname "Scoop" for his aggressive reporting. In 1951 he enlisted in the Army, returning to journalism in 1952 with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting in 1960, having documented serious problems at state's mental hospital in Milledgeville.

Nelson joined the Los Angeles Times in 1965 as its Atlanta bureau chief. He worked primarily on Civil Rights stories for his West Coast readers. In 1970 he moved to Washington to work in the Times bureau there. He was promoted to bureau chief in 1975 and kept that job for 20 years, during which he led the paper's coverage of the Watergate scandal. He retired in 2001.

Nelson died of pancreatic cancer at his home in Maryland in 2009.


  • "Noted LA Times journalist Jack Nelson, a Talladega native, dies at 80." (October 21, 2009) Associated Press
  • "Jack Nelson (journalist)." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 22 Oct 2009, 15:32 UTC. 22 Oct 2009 [1].