Ken Fortenberry

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Ken Fortenberry
Miami, Florida, U.S.
ResidenceNorth Carolina, U.S.
Anna Fortenberry (m. 1975)

Kenneth Hale Fortenberry (born 1951) is a nationally recognized award-winning author, journalist, and former newspaper publisher residing in North Carolina. Most recently he was the owner and publisher of news@norman, a weekly newspaper serving the Denver and the West Lake Norman area of North Carolina.[1] He sought the Republican nomination for North Carolina's 10th congressional district in 2012, losing to incumbent Patrick McHenry in the primary. He was running for Governor of North Carolina as a Libertarian in the 2016 election, but withdrew in August 2015.

Early life[edit]

Born in Miami, Florida, Fortenberry grew up in Spartanburg, South Carolina. His father was a Pan American Airlines pilot, and his mother was a housewife.[2] He attended high school in South Carolina and in Munich, Germany, and graduated from Dorman High School in Spartanburg. Fortenberry, a Vietnam-era U.S. Army veteran, graduated from the U.S. Department of Defense Information School (DINFOS) outside of Indianapolis, Indiana, and was assigned to Fort Hood, Texas, for his permanent duty station. He was a writer for the Fort Hood Sentinel newspaper, and was the senior non-commissioned officer in charge of a public information office.

Newspaper career[edit]

Starting his civilian newspaper career in Lincolnton, North Carolina, with the Lincoln Times-News in 1971, Fortenberry has served in editor and publisher roles with newspapers in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, North Carolina and Alabama. He published a newspaper in McCormick, South Carolina, that gained international recognition.

As a journalist, Fortenberry has won more than 100 state, regional and national awards.[3][4][5][6] While serving as executive editor of the Winter Haven News Chief, the newspaper landed the coveted Sigma Delta Chi Bronze Medallion in Public Service for a series about teachers with past felonies and other criminal records who were working in the state of Florida. The investigative reports led to legislation requiring better screening for those being considered for hiring.[7] He has also won the Silver Gavel from the American Bar Association[8] and the national Investigative Reporters and Editors award.[9]


He gained international recognition in 1987 when his house was rocked by two explosions because of stories he published in the McCormick (S.C.) Messenger.[10] His coverage of corruption in local law enforcement led to a federal prison term for the sheriff, the bribery conviction of the sheriff's replacement, the exposure of the chief deputy as an ex-convict, and changes in state law enforcement certification.[11]

Fortenberry was featured on the CBS News program 60 Minutes, the NBC Today show, and his story was reported in dozens of publications including Newsweek and The New York Times.[12] A book he wrote about the experience, Kill the Messenger, was published in 1989 by Peachtree Publishers LTD of Atlanta and has been under option for a TV movie.[13]

In "The Mystery of the Lost Clipper", an article co-written by Fortenberry and Dr. Greg Herken, evidence is offered of possible causes of the 1957 fatal crash of Pan American Airlines Flight 7, en route from San Francisco, California, to Honolulu, Hawaii. Fortenberry's father, William, was the second officer and navigator of this flight. The article was featured in the September 2004 issue of Air and Space magazine.[14] Fortenberry and Herken authored a follow-up article "What Happened to Pan Am Flight 7" in the January edition of "Air and Space."[15]


Fortenberry ran against incumbent U.S. Representative Patrick McHenry in the Republican primary for North Carolina's 10th congressional district in 2012. McHenry defeated him by 58,844 votes (72.5%) to 15,936 (19.6%).[16][17][18][19][20][21] He was the 2012 Democratic nominee for NC House District 97 and is a former member of the Palm Beach County (Fla) Democratic Executive Committee.


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