Journalist Les Payne dies

Les Payne

Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Les Payne died Monday night at his home in Harlem. He died unexpectedly of a cardiac arrest. He was 76.

Payne was part of a reporting team that published a 33-part series titled “The Heroin Trail,” for Newsday. The series won the 1974 Pulitzer prize in journalism.

Payne, a Vietnam veteran, was a founding member and president of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ).

He worked nearly four decades at Newsday, rising to associate managing editor before retiring in 2006. Payne was a native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama.




  1. Long ago, just started working for the Democrat & Chronicle newspaper in Rochester, NY, I attended a National Association of Black Journalists conference, and sat on a panel where Les was the featured speaker and he talked about how, when he was in South Africa, he avoided the propaganda traps that were set up to keep journalists from getting at real stories about apartheid.

    A lot of journalists use press releases and attended press conferences, he went into the field to get real stories. Anyway, to make a long story short, I learned more listening to his “war stories” at that panel than any stuff I learned from my D&C editors. I had great respect of him and despised the way that he was eventually treated by Newsday.

    [You won’t be hearing anything about that mistreatment from the mainstream news media with their nostalgic stuff about Les.]

    [I remember him at a NABJ I recall him at a NYC NABJ chapter engagement where I was talking about my experiences at the Democrat &n Chronicle, Time magazine, the Washington Star, and the NY Post and he considered I was a little whacked about my public contempt for mainstream news media – or maybe more than little – but I still had great respect for them.

  2. Gregg, thanks for your comments.

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