Jack Nelson, journalist was 80

Jack Nelson led the Los Angeles Times Washington bureau during much of the time that the paper's reputation for national reporting was growing, and before that was known for his breakthrough reporting on civil rights battles in the South. He stories after the 1972 Watergate break-in were the first to link the burglary "right to the heart of the Nixon reelection campaign," David Halberstam wrote in "The Powers That Be." Nelson died at age 80. Elaine Woo's obit at the LAT:

Nelson was recruited from the Atlanta Constitution in 1965 as part of publisher Otis Chandler's effort to transform The Times into one of the country's foremost dailies. An aggressive reporter who had exposed abuses at Georgia's biggest mental institution, Nelson went on to break major stories on the civil rights movement for The Times, particularly in his coverage of the shooting of civil rights worker Viola Liuzzo and the massacre of black students at South Carolina State College in Orangeburg....

Named in 1975 to lead the Washington bureau, Nelson oversaw its evolution over the next 21 years into what Gene Roberts Jr., former managing editor of the New York Times and a onetime rival of Nelson's on the civil rights beat, called "arguably one of the finest bureaus ever in Washington."

Former LAT managing editor George Cotliar called Nelson "the toughest, hardest-charging, finest reporter I've known in my 40 years in the business."


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