Robin Toner

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Robin Toner
Born May 22, 1954
Chester, Pennsylvania
Died December 12, 2008(2008-12-12) (aged 54)
Washington, DC
Occupation journalist
Employer New York Times
Home town Chadds Ford, Pa.
Spouse(s) Peter Gosselin
Children Jacob and Nora Toner
Parent(s) Charles and Mary Louise Toner

Roberta "Robin" Denise Toner (1954–2008) was an American journalist. She was the first woman to be national political correspondent for The New York Times.[2]

Robin Toner was born on May 22, 1954, in Chester, Pennsylvania and grew up in Chadds Ford Township, Pennsylvania.[3] Her father, Charles, was an oil refinery supervisor and World War II pilot; her mother, Mary Louise, was a homemaker. One of six children, Toner was a summa cum laude graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. She reported for The Charleston Daily Mail in West Virginia and The Atlanta Journal and Constitution before joining the Times in 1985.[4]

In 1992, Toner was the lead reporter on Bill Clinton's presidential election. She later became chief of correspondents on the paper's national desk in New York, coaching reporters in other bureaus, and also had held the title of senior writer, covering topics including abortion rights and judicial nominations.[4]

"When you watched her work — relentless on the phone, gnawing her fingernails to the nub, a perfectionist on the keyboard you'd think: a workhorse, not a showhorse," Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times, said on its Web site. "Then you'd read the result and it would be elegant. She was one of the best."[4]

Michael Oreskes, a former Times Washington bureau chief who is now Senior Vice President of News and Editorial Director at NPR, praised Toner as "the toughest, smartest and straightest political reporter I have ever known."[4]

"She loved covering politics, because it was about people, with all their heroics and flaws and just plain boneheadedness," he said. "She was full of passion and moral outrage but had not one ounce of that bane of modern journalism, cynicism. That's why her stories were so memorable."[4]

In her 25 years with The New York Times, she published more than 1,900 articles of which six required corrections. This was a result of her own system of verifying and confirming dates, names, facts and figures in her initial version of articles, steps taken by few other reporters.[2]

Robin died of complications resulting from colon cancer on December 12, 2008.[4]

The Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting, awarded annually by Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, is named after her, as is the Toner Lecture/Symposium on American politics and political journalism; together they make up the Toner Program in Political Reporting, established at Syracuse University in 2009.[5][6][7]


  1. ^ Klein, Joe (December 12, 2008). "Robin Toner".
  2. ^ a b Purdum, Todd (12/12/2008). "Robin Toner, Times Reporter, Is Dead at 54". The New York Times.
  3. ^ Bernstein, Adam (12/13/2008). "Robin Toner, 54; Veteran New York Times Reporter and Editor". The Washington Post.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Associated Press (12/12/2008). "New York Times Reporter Robin Toner Dies at 54". The Associated Press.
  5. ^ "» Toner Prize". Retrieved 2015-03-25. 
  6. ^ "» About". Retrieved 2015-03-25. 
  7. ^ "» Toner Lecture". Retrieved 2015-03-25.