|Born||June 3, 1929|
|Died||June 13, 1989 (age 60)|
|Education||B.A. Union College|
|Known for||Managing editor of the Washington Post|
Howard Simons (June 3, 1929 - June 13, 1989) was the managing editor of the Washington Post at the time of the Watergate scandal, and later curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University.
Early life and education
Simons was born to a Jewish family and raised in Albany, New York, and received a BA from Union College in Schenectady in 1951 and a master's degree a year later from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. After service in the Korean War, he became a science reporter in Washington for several news organizations, and joined The Post as a science writer in 1961. He became assistant managing editor in 1966 and managing editor in 1971.
According to Carol Felsenthal of Politico Magazine, Simons took the first phone call, on June 18, 1972, from Democratic National Committee general counsel Joseph Califano Jr., about a break-in, the night before, at DNC headquarters at the Watergate complex. Simons took charge and with help from fellow editors Barry Sussman and Harry Rosenfeld, guided Woodward and Bernstein, and championed the young reporters for what became a national story.
- "When the time came, it was managing editor Howard Simons--not Ben Bradlee or other ranking editors--who made the crucial early decisions that led to the Washington Post's extraordinary coverage of the Watergate scandal, especially the decision to allow the metropolitan staff, which did not normally report on national politics, to pursue the story."
- The Great Cover-Up by Barry Sussman, page 66.
After The Washington Post
Simons authored Jewish Times: Voices of the American Jewish Experience, (Houghton-Mifflin, 1988), and Simons' List Book (1977). He edited two books with Joseph A. Califano, Jr., The Media and the Law and The Media and Business, and in 1986 wrote a spy novel with Haynes Johnson called The Landing.
A well-known quotation attributed to Simons:
- "People who are funny and smart and return phone calls get much better press than people who are just funny and smart."
He stepped down from the Nieman position on May 25, 1989, on medical leave, and succumbed to pancreatic cancer three weeks later, aged 60.
A scholarship named after him assists minority students aspiring in journalism (see).
- Epstein, Noel. Howard Simons, Ex-Managing Editor of Post and Nieman Curator, Dies. Washington Post, June 14, 1989.
- Jones, Alex S. Howard Simons Dies at Age 60, an Ex-Editor at Washington Post. New York Times, June 14, 1989.