Former News & Observer editor Claude Sitton, who died last week, embodied the noblest ideals of the journalism profession. As editor of the N&O from 1970 to 1990 Sitton assembled a first-rate staff and won a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 1983.
Sitton grew up in the old, segregated, racist, rural South as I did. Anyone not raised in that environment can’t comprehend the courage it took to write the way he did about civil rights. Truly he was a marked man, and he knew it, for those in power considered him to be a “traitor to the cause.” No wonder that, as one writer put it, “he never sat with his back to a door.” His wife, Eva, and their children shared that courage.
Sitton embodied the noblest ideals of the journalistic profession. He sought out the truth wherever it led and was never afraid to confront the powerful.
One writer remarked that The N&O has gone through many changes since Sitton retired, most for the better. This is not so. Sitton represented journalism at its very best – the absolute high-water mark.
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We live in a better place today because of Claude and Eva Sitton and those like them.
Peter V. Andrews