James R. Whelan

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James R. Whelan (July 27, 1933 – December 1, 2012) was a journalist and historian who served as the first editor in chief of The Washington Times, holding the position from 1982 to 1984. He is also known as the author of several books, most of them on the recent political history of Latin America. He was born in Buffalo, New York.

Early career[edit]

Whelan began a career in journalism in 1952, much of it spent in Latin America including Chile, Venezuela, and Mexico.[1] He started as a local correspondent for United Press International (UPI).[1] In 1964, while UPI manager for Venezuela, he was named a Nieman Fellow.[2] He later served as managing editor of The Miami News.[3] He graduated from Florida International University in 1975 with a bachelor's degree.[1] He served as vice president and editor of The Sacramento Union.

The Washington Times[edit]

In 1982 Whelan resigned from The Sacramento Union[4] to work at the newly created Washington Times, serving as its first editor in chief and publisher.[5] It was owned by the News World Communications, at which Whelan was later made an executive,[6] which is affiliated with the Unification Church, although Whelan himself is not a member of the church.[7] Whelen had initially rejected the offer to work at the new publication, but a persistent recruiting effort from Colonel Bo Hi Pak eventually changed his mind.[8] In response to concerns over its church associations, Whelan promised the paper would be independent, citing a contract that promised autonomy.[9] At a National Press Club luncheon in 1983, he complained about the sloppiness and hypocrisy of complaints made about the relationship with the church, stating that he himself had met the church's leader Sun Myung Moon only twice.[10]

In 1984 Whelan unexpectedly left the paper.[11] At a news conference, Whelan claimed that "senior members of the Unification Church Movement—the so-called Moonies—have seized direct control" of The Washington Times, and that this led to his sacking by Bo Hi Pak. Smith Hempstone, Whelan's successor, denied this, saying that a group of executives and editors, none of whom were members of the church, felt Whelan's removal would be better for the paper's "continued integrity."[6]

Later career[edit]

After leaving the Times, Whelan worked for the Latin American News Service. He lived in Chile, serving as visiting professor at the University of Chile and writing on the nation's history. In 2008 he moved back to the United States and lived in Miami.[3]


He died of multiple organ failure at 79, at his home in Miami, Florida.[3]


  • Allende, Death of a Marxist Dream. Westport, CT: Arlington House, 1981.
  • Catastrophe in the Caribbean: The failure of America's human rights policy in Central America. Ottawa, IL: Jameson Books, 1984.
  • The Soviet Assault on America's Southern Flank. Washington D. C. : Regnery Gateway, 1988.
  • Out of the Ashes: Life, Death and Transfiguration of Democracy in Chile, 1833-1988. Washington, DC: Regnery Gateway, 1989.
  • Hunters in the Sky: Fighter Aces of WWII. (1991)[12]


  1. ^ a b c Weber, Bruce (December 3, 2012). "James R. Whelan, First Editor of The Washington Times, Dies at 79". New York Times. Retrieved January 25, 2014. 
  2. ^ "13 NEWSMEN GET NIEMAN AWARDS". The New York Times. June 8, 1966. Retrieved March 18, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c Langer, Emily (December 4, 2012). "James R. Whelan, founding editor and publisher of the Washington Times, dies at 79". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 25, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Sacramento Editor to Head New D.C. Paper". Los Angeles Times. Feb 24, 1982. pp. E2. Retrieved March 18, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Washington Times begins publishing". Lodi News-Sentinel. May 17, 1982. Retrieved March 18, 2011. 
  6. ^ a b Ahern, Tim (Jul 18, 1984). "Newspaper officials deny "Moonie" takeover". The Lewiston Journal. Retrieved March 22, 2011. 
  7. ^ Trausch, Susan (May 18, 1982). "CHURCH TIES WITH NEW D.C. PAPER QUESTIONED". The Boston Globe. Retrieved March 18, 2011. 
  8. ^ Bumiller, Elisabeth (May 17, 1982). "The Nation's Capital Gets A New Daily Newspaper". The Washington Post. pp. Page C01. Retrieved March 22, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Followers of Rev. Moon Start New Paper". Gainesville Sun. May 17, 1982. Retrieved March 22, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Press Angers Washington Publisher". The Palm Beach Post. May 20, 1983. Retrieved March 22, 2011. 
  11. ^ Rosenstiel, Thomas B.; Wines, Michael (Jul 14, 1984). "Washington Times' Chief Whelan Leaves". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 22, 2011. 
  12. ^ "James R. Whalen". Amazon.com. Retrieved 18 March 2011. 

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