John Seigenthaler senior

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John Seigenthaler (2005)

John Lawrence Seigenthaler ( pronounced: ['sigɛnˌθɔlɚ] , born July 27, 1927 in Nashville , Tennessee ; † July 11, 2014 ibid) was an American journalist and author.


Seigenthaler was born in Nashville in 1927. He attended Peabody College there . In 1949 he worked for the newspaper The Tennessean . From 1962 he was editor-in-chief , from 1973 publisher, from 1982 to 1991 chairman, and after his resignation, honorary chairman of this newspaper. From 1982 to 1991 Seigenthaler worked for the USA Today newspaper, which he co-founded, as the editorial director. He also served as a board member and temporarily president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors .

Seigenthaler had been married to Dolores Watson since 1955. Their son John was born in 1955 and is a newscaster for NBC . Seigenthaler's older brother Thomas Seigenthaler is the founder of the Seigenthaler Foundation .

Seigenthaler died on July 11, 2014 in his birthplace, Nashville.

Professional background

Seigenthaler first emerged as a journalist in 1953 when he tracked down a Tennessee businessman who had disappeared 22 years earlier. In July 1956, his journalistic investigation into the machinations of union officials contributed to the dismissal of Judge Ralston Schoolfield. In 1960 Seigenthaler became a brief employee of the government under Justice Minister Robert F. Kennedy . On April 21, 1961, he was present at his conversation with Martin Luther King . During the Freedom Rides in 1961, he negotiated on behalf of the government with Alabama's Governor John Malcolm Patterson .

In 1962, he finally rejoined The Tennessean newspaper as editor-in-chief . Under the new leadership of the paper, the newspaper quickly gained a good reputation. Nonetheless, he was accused by one of the union officials he identified in 1956, Jimmy Hoffa , of having unilaterally reported in his newspaper that was due to the friendship between Seigenthaler and Kennedy. Seigenthaler always rejected this. He worked in 1968 on the campaign team for the presidency of Robert F. Kennedy. After Kennedy's murder on June 6, 1968, he held the wake at his coffin.

As editor of the newspaper, he dismissed editor Jacque Srouji, who had worked as an FBI informant, in May 1976 . The FBI had gathered a lot of information about Seigenthaler as well. He tried to get access to these files for a year. These included u. a. Notes that Seigenthaler had relationships with young girls. Seigenthaler published all of the material the FBI had collected on him. For this journalistic courage he received the Sidney Hillman Prize in 1976 . The allegations could be refuted by him.

In 1986, Middle Tennessee State University established the John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies in honor of Seigenthaler . He founded the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University in 1991 . In 2002 the university renamed the building that houses the First Amendment Center to the John Seigenthaler Center . A pedestrian bridge in Nashville is also named after him.

Wikipedia controversy

In May 2005, an anonymous Wikipedia user established a fictitious relationship between Seigenthaler and the assassinations of Robert and John F. Kennedy through an article on Wikipedia . This was only discovered in September 2005 by a friend of Seigenthaler's. After Seigenthaler contacted Wikipedia, the article was deleted. Seigenthaler was able to contact the provider Bell South via the IP address used , but the provider had to refuse to provide the subscriber's address data as long as this was not ordered due to criminal proceedings against the slanderer. Seigenthaler then blamed Larry Sanger as one of the founders of Wikipedia - just as unsuccessfully . This was the reason why Larry Sanger (after Nupedia) again founded an online encyclopedia ( "Citizendium" ) with named, non-anonymous authors.

Seigenthaler called Wikipedia unsuitable for research on November 29, 2005 because of the allegations (“ … Wikipedia is a flawed and irresponsible research tool…. For four months, Wikipedia depicted me as a suspected assassin. ”). He has the right to be able to express his opinion freely, his criticism is directed against the fact that nobody needs to take responsibility for Wikipedia contributions. This resulted in various comments on the subject and on the overall credibility of information on the Internet.

As a result, Jimmy Wales , the founder of Wikipedia, made sure that new articles can only be created by registered users. This only affects the English language Wikipedia and is considered an experiment. The aim is to reduce the number of new posts, because recently other users could not keep up with the pace at which new posts were being written when checking.

The anonymous author of the incriminated Wikipedia article became known in the further course of the affair. The Süddeutsche Zeitung of December 12, 2005 writes about this in the features section under the title Scherzcookie. Wikipedia forger unmasked : “Now the Wikipedia critic Daniel Brandt was able to reveal the identity of the author by means of the IP addresses used: His name is Brian C. and he works for a shipping company in Nashville . He thought Wikipedia was a joke website, and his entry was meant as a joke. He apologized contrite to Seigenthaler. "


  • with Pierre Salinger, Edwin Guthman, Frank Mankiewicz: An Honorable Profession. A Tribute to Robert F. Kennedy. Doubleday, Garden City 1968, 2nd ed. 1993, ISBN 0-385-47127-0 .
  • A Search for Justice. Aurora, Nashville 1971, ISBN 0-87695-003-9 .
  • The Year of the Scandal Called Watergate. Nashville 1974.
  • James K. Polk, 1845-1849 (= The American Presidents Series, Volume 11). Times Books, New York 2004, ISBN 0-8050-6942-9 .

Web links

Commons : John Seigenthaler senior  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Prominent editor, activist John Seigenthaler dies at 86 . In: USA TODAY . July 11, 2014 (English, [accessed May 26, 2017]).
  2. ^ John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge. In: Nashville Downtown Partnership. Retrieved May 26, 2017 (English).
  3. Karl Rihaczek: Wikipedia . In: DuD data protection and data security. 34th year. Issue 9/2010. Verlag Gabler | Springer Fachmedien, Wiesbaden, ISSN  1614-0702 , p. 605. With reference to: Chris Lydgate, Deconstructing Wikipedia. In: REED. June 2010.
  4. John Seigenthaler: A false Wikipedia 'biography'. In: USA TODAY. November 29, 2005, accessed May 26, 2017 .