Ben Bagdikian

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Ben Bagdikian
Born (1920-01-30)January 30, 1920
Maraş, Ottoman Empire (modern-day Turkey)
Died March 11, 2016(2016-03-11) (aged 96)
Berkeley, California, U.S.
Nationality Armenian, American
Alma mater Clark University
Occupation Journalist, media critic
Works The Media Monopoly
Awards Pulitzer Prize (1953)
Peabody Award (1950)

Ben Haig Bagdikian (January 30, 1920 – March 11, 2016) was an Armenian-American educator and journalist.[1] He was a significant American media critic and the dean of the University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.


Bagdikian, whose full name was Ben-Hur Bagdikian,[2] was born Jan. 30, 1920 in present-day Turkey. His Armenian family fled the country because of persecution when he was an infant. He graduated from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1941 and became a journalist.

Bagdikian was a reporter for The Providence Journal in Rhode Island from 1947[3] to 1962.[4] In 1950, Bagdikian received a Peabody Award for a series of his commentaries and criticisms of broadcasts by Walter Winchell. The award cited Bagdikian as a "brilliant young reporter".[5] In 1953, Bagdikian was part of a Providence Journal team that shared the Pulitzer Prize for coverage of a bank robbery.[6] In 1957, he teamed up with an African-American reporter to cover racial divisions the American South.[6]

During 1963 to 1967 Bagdikian was a Washington-based contributing editor of The Saturday Evening Post. He also wrote freelance articles about the Civil Rights Movement, politics, poverty, housing, migration and other subjects.[3]

Bagdikian joined the Washington Post in 1970,[3] where he once posed as a convicted murderer to get inside a Pennsylvania maximum-security prison to report about abuses there.[6]

In 1971 whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg gave Bagdikian portions of the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret classified history of the Vietnam War.[6] Bagdikian passed a copy of the documents to Senator Mike Gravel, who promptly read them into the Congressional Record.

In 1976, Bagdikian joined the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley, eventually becoming the dean of the graduate school of journalism there.[6] He retired in 1990.[6]

In 1983 Bagdikian published The Media Monopoly, which revealed the fast-moving media conglomeration that was putting more and more media corporations in fewer and fewer hands with each new merger. This work has been updated through six editions before being renamed The New Media Monopoly (2004) and is considered a crucial resource for knowledge about media ownership. Bagdikian is credited with having made the observation that "Trying to be a first-rate reporter on the average American newspaper is like trying to play Bach's 'St. Matthew Passion' on a ukulele."

Bagdikian died in Berkeley, California on March 11, 2016 at the age of 96.[6][3]

Awards and honors[edit]

In 1950, Bagdikian received a Peabody Award for a series of his commentaries and criticisms of broadcasts by Walter Winchell. The award cited Bagdikian as a "brilliant young reporter".[5]

In 1953, Bagdikian was part of a Providence Journal team that shared the Pulitzer Prize for coverage of a bank robbery.[6][3]

Mother Jones, a nonprofit magazine and news organization that specializes in investigative, political, and social justice reporting, has created a program after Bagdikian called the Ben Bagdikian Fellowship Program for interns aspiring to become investigative reporters.[7]

He received an honorary L.H.D. degree from Brown University in 1961.[8]

Bagdikian was posthumously inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in October 2016.[4]

Among Bagdikian’s other awards have been: a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship; a Citation of Merit as “Journalism’s Most Perceptive Critic,” awarded by the American Society of Journalism School Administrators; and the James Madison Award, by the American Library Association Coalition on Government Information. His honorary degrees are from Brown University, University of Rhode Island, and his alma mater, Clark University. He has also received The Berkeley Citation, the equivalent of honorary degrees given at the University of California at Berkeley, where he was a faculty member and Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism. He is the recipient of the James Madison Award of the American Library Association Coalition on Government Information.[9]


As author[edit]

As editor[edit]

  • "Man's Contracting World in an Expanding Universe", Proceedings of the Brown University Convocation held in Providence, RI October 21–23, 1959, Brown University, 1960.
  • "The Shame Of The Prisons", The Washington Post national report, with Leon Dash, 1972.
  • The Memoir of Lydia Bagdikian, by Lydia Bagdikian, Berkeley, California: Private printing. Based on notebook diaries of Ben Bagdikian's older sister Lydia, 1997.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bagdikian, Ben. "Ben H. Bagdikian". Reporting civil rights. Archived from the original on 10 November 2013. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  2. ^ Schudel, Matt (2016-03-11). "Ben H. Bagdikian, journalist with key role in Pentagon Papers case, dies at 96". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2016-03-14. 
  3. ^ a b c d e McFadden, Robert D. (11 March 2016). "Ben H. Bagdisian, reporter of broad range and conscience, dies at 96". The New York Times. 
  4. ^ a b "Newsman Ben Bagdikian among 14 inducted into RI Heritage Hall of Fame". The Providence Journal. 30 October 2016. Retrieved 31 October 2016. 
  5. ^ a b "Providence Journal, Its Editor and Publisher, Sevellon Brown, and Ben Bagdikian, Reporter for the Series of Articles Analyzing the Broadcasts of Top Commentators". Peabody: Stories that Matter. The Peabody Awards. Retrieved 7 October 2016. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Jablon, Robert (12 March 2016). "Media commentator Ben Bagdikian dies at 96; shared Pulitzer at Providence Journal". The Providence Journal. The Associated Press. Retrieved 7 October 2016. 
  7. ^ The Ben Bagdikian Fellowship Program | Mother Jones
  8. ^ "Honorary Degrees: 1900s". The Corporation of Brown University. Brown University. Retrieved 7 October 2016. 
  9. ^

External links[edit]