Bob Hoyt was, without a doubt, the dean of religious journalists in the latter half of the 20th century and beyond. His accomplishments were manifold. He created the outstanding National Catholic Reporter, which unhesitatingly, courageously, and continuously took on the issues of church and state from its founding by him in 1964.
I first met Bob in the early days of the “Protestant-Roman Catholic dialogue” when I was managing editor of Christianity & Crisis (C&C), a liberal Protestant journal founded by Reinhold Niebuhr. He and I were asked by CBS to do a Sunday morning show interviewing Bishop Charles Helmsing of Kansas City in 1963, shortly after the First Session of Vatican Two. Helmsing had evidently been tapped as a liberal at the session. Bob told me he could never understand why.
A few years later we were invited to join a group of Protestant and Roman Catholic editors on a trip to the Middle East conceived by the American Jewish Committee and the United Church of Christ. We spent five days in Cairo, five in Jordan, and 10 in Israel. We traveled pretty freely throughout and generally got to see who and what we wanted to see. We interviewed King Hussein in Jordan, Prime Minister Golda Meir in her Tel Aviv office, where she told us there was no such thing as a Palestinian people, and Abba IIban in his Jerusalem home. Each of us responded differently and were essentially supporters of the State of Israel. Some of us were disturbed by what we had seen in Jordan and by the way Palestinians were treated, as we reported when we went to a debriefing at the State Department in Washington.
In the early seventies, NCR lost significant circulation, and its publisher blamed Hoyt and ousted him. Those of us in the field who had significantly fought for civil rights and opposed the Vietnam War knew better as we had suffered similarly. NCR’s loss turned out to be C&C’s gain as Bob moved to New York.
We prospered as he made a great contribution to us with his writing, thinking, and editing for more than a decade. Our outlook on the world and the issues before us were quite similar. We were of one mind on racism and sexism and openly supported the gay community. In the 1960s only 1 percent of what we published was written by females. By the ’80s, 20 percent was, and by the mid-’80s a third of our reviews were also. Few journals could match that record.
Bob eventually moved on to make a significant contribution as senior writer at the much respected Commonweal.
Mike Hoyt’s essay was a brave piece of writing and remembrance of his father, who became the Walter Lippmann of the nation’s religious press.
Wayne H. Cowan
South Hadley, MA
In “America’s secret fetish” (CJR, November/December), we incorrectly stated the number of terms Daniel Patrick Moynihan served on the US Senate. The correct number is four.
Notes from our online readers
In early december, CJR’s Ryan Chittum wrote a critique on a “study” making its way around the Web that reported on abuse suffered by female journalists, published by the International Women’s Media Foundation and the International News Safety Institute. While a salient topic of discussion, Chittum wrote, the study was less than scientific, merely culling responses online from volunteers. Elisa Lees Munoz, executive director of IWMF, defended the work:
I wish that you had reached out to me for this article (“Credulous press for a report on abuse of female journalists,” cjr.org, December 6, 2013). I am the executive director of the IWMF. I could have given you a much better understanding of what we are trying to do with the study. While we can’t control headlines, we are well aware that we are not representing a scientific picture of the percentage of women journalists threatened, just the women journalists who responded to the survey. In addition, the survey does require information about where the individual works as well as contact information to enable us to go back to respondents.
The kind of information that we are gathering is critical to the work of the IWMF and that of many other journalism development organizations. We have been gathering stories of women journalists in extreme threat around the world for nearly 25 years. The study helps us to pinpoint the kinds of threats women are facing and thereby create programs to help address and mitigate them. Clearly a comprehensive survey is necessary. Funding for that kind of work is extremely hard to come by. This is a good first step to provide important information about the conditions under which many women journalists are working.