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February 10, 1989 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-02-10

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Call Me Journalistically 'Dated' Via The JOA


Editor Emeritus


egalization of the JOA — Joint
Operating Agreement assuring
the merging of the Detroit Free
Press with the Detroit News leads to
recollections about an important cast of
characters who functioned in Detroit
journalism for nearly seven decades.
Those of us who came here at the
beginning of the 1920's remember the
earlier newspapers, the Detroit Journal
and the Detroit Times.
There also was the Detroit Saturday
Night, the impressive weekly
magazines printed on heavy stock
paper, appealing personality-wise to
"Class" providing distinction to gain-
ing recognition in it.
Jacob Nathan, one of the early
pioneers in Detroit journalism, a Jewish
community-ite of merit, was one of its
chief producers.
In one of the early journalistic
stories the name of Jacob Nathan is
most fascinating. Nearly forgotten, it
needs reminding and remembering.
Therefore it needs an extra chapter,
an addendum as an unforgettable im-
pression about a giant in our profession.
Leonard N. Simons made it available.
As we reminisced about Nathan, he pro-
ceeded, a few days ago, to spend a long
afternoon in the Burton Historical
Library and assembled the Jacob
Nathan facts. These are appended here
on this page, with a recommendation
that it be widely read, with a recom
mendation to Leonard Simons that he
pursue it, as he says he intends to, make
it an inerasable portion of Detroit
Jewish and journalistic history.
Now to pursue with the
reminiscences aroused by the JOA:
In my association with the Detroit
News there were several of distinction.
There was a close friendshp with
Harvey Barcus, who was an important


member of the sports department. He
was associated for many years with
Harry Salsinger, the newspaper's sports
I played tennis on the roof of the
Detroit News with Harvey and we often
took turns running down three flights
of stairs to retrieve a tennis ball that
fell onto Lafayete.
The long friendship with Harvey led
to another unforgettable one with his
brother Frank Barcus, the eminent
Detroit city planner, distinguished ar-
tist and author of essays and books
about the Detroit waterfront. My ad-
miration for Frank Barcus is that he
drew my book plate for me.
Here it is:

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Another Detroit News staff member,
with whom there developed a strong
community alignment was Jake Albert.

He refused to be called Jacob. "I am
Jake," he kept telling us. Both of us
served on the public relations commit-
tee of the Allied Jewish Campaigns
under the then chairmanship of Israel
Himelhoch. Many important communi-
ty philanthropic appeals emerged from
those associations. While Jake was a
member of the News advertising depart-
ment, his contributions to the PR needs
were of high quality and in an appeal-
ing style.
Two Detroit News editorial staff
members gained special distinction.
They were:
Clifford Epstein was among the first
in the 1930s to go to Jewish Palestine
for a lengthy stay of study of the early
pioneers in state building. He then
wrote at great length on the subject for
the News. His views aroused much
discussion and he was commended for
realism that tested the conflicts that
also existed at the time. He married an
Israeli and they lived in Ann Arbor for
many years. His widow was active in
the Jewish community in Ann Arbor
and was a member of the secretarial
staff of the University of Michigan Col-
lege of Architecture. Until her death
two years ago, she devoted her energies
toward popularizing interest in Raul
Wallenberg and his legacy as a Univer-
sity of Michigan graduate.
The other eminent Detroit News
personality was Philip Adler. He was an
authority on foreign affairs and his
News articles and occasional foreign
correspondence gave him national pro-
minence until his death in a plane
crash over Japan. His handicap was
that his Russian background left him
with a very marked accent. The result
was that the News kept him off the air
when radio programs were sponsored by
the newspaper and that task was
assigned to Russell Barnes, who was
among my earliest associates on the
News editorial staff and with whom I

had a University of Michigan Daily staff
Russell Barnes died a few weeks ago
at age 91. I also recall about him that
Pierre Van Paasen, who had associa-
tions with him in Paris, was very
critical of his views on Zionism and
Jewish matters generally.
In relation to the News, I must men-
tion its editor, Horace "Doc" Gilmore,
and managing editor Malcolm W.
Bingay, who gave me my first job on a
Detroit newspaper. I later had close
associations with "Bing" when he
became the Detroit Free Press editor.
Bing became editor of the Detroit News
after a sensational career as a sports
writer. Perhaps it was temporary
alcoholic addiction that caused his be-
ing removed from News editorship and
being sent on an assignment in
England. Upon his return he went to
the Free Press for a continuing
newspaper success.
Bingay had to his credit the in-
troduction for the Detroit News of the
later popularized columns of advice to
the readers and emphasis on family and
personal problems. When he relegated
that task to Nancy Brown, the News
editorial staff was infuriated. They did
not approve of such public discussions
of marriage, family and related pro-
blems. Brown was the charming lady
who was well suited for the assigned
task. I was among the minority who ap-
plauded Bingay for his judgment.
The many others to be remembered
on the Detroit News, included Rex
White who was among the star
City editor George Stark is un-
forgettable. We exchanged many a
"l'chayim" at Jewish functions, at
Franklin Hills, Knollwood and
elsewhere. His wife, Anne Campbell,
the Detroit News poet, also is not forgot-
Continued on Page 38

Jacob Nathan Legend: Detroit Journalism Enhanced

Jacob Nathan is now a legend in
Detroit journalism's anthological
records. Thanks to the research skills
of Leonard N. Simons, as related above,
Jacob Nathan is no longer forgotten. He
is once again among the creative factors
in the history of journalism in our

(US PS 275-520) is published every Friday
with additional supplements the fourth
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and the second week of November at
20300 Civic Center Drive, Southfield,

Second class postage paid at Southfield,
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Postmaster: Send changes to:
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$26 per year
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60' single copy
Vol. XCIV No. 24
February 10, 1989



Thanks to Leonard Simons, we have
the virtually unearthed facts with
records of where he had gathered them
from old Burton Historical Library
Here are the Jacob Nathan ac-
complished backgrounds and their
After nine years' connection
with Detroit Saturday Night as
associate and business editor,
Jacob Nathan has accepted the
position of executive secretary
of the Detroit Stock Exchange,
and will assume his new duties
next week.
Mr. Nathan's articles on
business subjects have long
been regarded as "gospel" by a
large contingent of readers, and
his keen understanding and
knowledge of financial affairs
will make him an especially
valuable official for the Stock
Exchange, which at the present
time is planning a remarkable

expansion intended to place it in
a position in the United States
second only to the New York
Stock Exchange.
Mr. Nathan came to Detroit
from Alpena 17 years ago, and
spent a number of years in
newspaper work on The Detroit
Tribune, Free Press and News,
in all of whose offices he was
recognized as an unusually ac-
curate and conscientious writer.
From The Detroiter, Aug. 4, 1922,
headlined "Who's Who in the Detroit
Board of Commerce":
Back in 1879 sawmills, forest
fires and lumberjacks were as
familiar to the kids in Alpena,
Mich., as automobile factories,
strikes and bootleggers are to
the youngsters in Detroit today.
It was in that year, on Jan. 25,
that Jacob (Jake) Nathan, a
member of this year's Board of
Commerce directorate, was
born in the upstate city.

Owing to misfortune, young
Nathan was forced to leave
school before he was 16, taking
a job as "bell-hop" and "boot-
black" in a local hotel. Later he
found employment in a book
store, where for six years he car-
ried on a process of self-
education. When he was 23
years old he broke into the
newspaper "game," going to the
Alpena News. Less than three
years later he came to Detroit to
work on the old Morning
Tribune. He remained in the
profession continuously until
Sept. 15, 1919.
During his newspaper ex-
perience, Mr. Nathan held every
kind of job on the editorial side
of the publications with which
he was connected — general
reporting, crime, politics and
business, desk work and
editorial writing, and even
Continued on Page 38

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