Famed reporter Claude Sitton dies at 89

From left: Tom Brokaw, Claude Sitton, Brenda Wood and Ted Turner (Photo courtesy Atlanta Press Club)

ATLANTA — Claude Sitton, a famed journalist who covered the South for the New York Times during the turbulent 1960s, has died, according to reports. He was 89.

Sitton, a Rockdale County, Ga., native joined The New York Times in 1958 as the newspaper’s Southern correspondent. In that role, he established himself as one of the leading reporters on the Civil Rights movement.

“What made him the gold standard was that he went where other reporters didn’t go, and once he got there they followed,” The Associated Press quoted Hank Klibanoff, a former managing editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, as saying.

Sitton was honored in 1983 with a Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary while with The News & Observer newspaper in Raleigh, N.C.

“I had the greatest newspaper job in the world. I had the opportunity to go out and find out the top story in the field, and get into the middle of it,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted Sitton as saying recently. “I wanted to tell what was going on, but more importantly, why.”

Sitton was inducted into the Atlanta Press Club Hall of Fame in November alongside Tom Brokaw and others. More recently, Sitton was under hospice care as a result of heart failure, The Associated Press reported.

“It’s hard to imagine there was once a time when covering a story inside the United States carried the same perils as covering a war,” Dean Baquet, executive editor of The New York Times, said during Sitton’s November induction into the Atlanta Press Club Hall of Fame. “But, that was the South Claude Sitton covered for six years.”

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Todd DeFeo

Todd DeFeo loves to travel anywhere, anytime, taking pictures and notes. An award-winning reporter, Todd revels in the experience and the fact that every place has a story to tell. He is owner of The DeFeo Groupe and also edits The Travel Trolley and Railfanning.org.