Osborn Elliott (October 25, 1924 – September 28, 2008) was the editor of Newsweek magazine for sixteen years between 1961 until 1976. Elliott is credited with transforming Newsweek from a staid publication into a modern rival of Time.
Newsweek's circulation doubled to 3 million issues during Elliott's tenure as editor, which narrowed the gap with Time.
Osborn Elliott was born to a prominent family in New York City on October 25, 1925. His father, John Elliott, worked as an investment counselor. His mother, Audrey Osborn Elliott, was a high profile real estate agent in Manhattan who had been actively involved with the American women's suffrage movement of the early 20th Century.
Elliott attended St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire. He attended and graduated from Harvard University on an accelerated two-year wartime program. He served in the United States Navy for two years after graduation as a naval officer.
Elliott married his first wife, Deirdre Spencer. The couple had three children, Diana Elliott Lidofsky, Cynthia Elliott (Rice), and Dorinda Elliott (Ignatius) and divorced in 1972. He married his second wife, Inger McCabe, in 1973 and became a stepfather to her three children, Alec McCabe, Marit McCabe (Dubois), and Kari McCabe (McBride).
Elliott was further elevated to editor of Newsweek in 1961 when the magazine was acquired by the Washington Post Company. He became the editor in chief of Newsweek in 1969. He took on the additional roles of president, chief executive and chairman within the following three years.
New York City Mayor Abraham Beame offered Elliott a position with the New York City government in 1976 as the newly created deputy mayor of economic development. Elliott left Newsweek to take the deputy mayor position for an annual salary of $1 per year. Elliott's role in New York government was to reverse the loss of jobs which was taking place at the time in New York City. He served as deputy mayor for the remaining 15 months of the Beame administration.
Elliott was named dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in January 1978. He stepped down from that position in 1986, but remained at the school as a journalism professor.
In 1975, Elliott founded Citizens Committee for New York City along with Senator Jacob Javits.
His 1980 autobiography was titled "The World of Oz."
The Asia Society released a statement which called Elliott "one of the earliest practitioners of 'civic journalism' -- the deliberate focusing of the journalistic enterprise on urgent issues of public policy."
- "Osborn Elliott dies at 83; longtime Newsweek editor". Bloomberg News (Los Angeles Times). 2008-09-29. Retrieved 2008-10-26.
- Author of Batik: Fabled Cloth of Java, Hong Kong: Periplus, 2004
- Asia Society Osborn Elliott Prize for Excellence in Asian Journalism
- A film clip "The Open Mind - A Journalist Critiques Journalism (1981)" is available for free download at the Internet Archive