James Reston

ScottyJames Barrett ("Scotty") Reston (1909 - 1995) was arguably one of the most accomplished post-war American journalists. He had a 50 year association with The New York Times and rose to be its Executive Editor at the time of his retirement in 1987. His career covered the mid-1930s to the early 1990s and he experienced life as a war correspondent in London during WW2 and as Washington Bureau Chief, where he established influential relationships with US Presidents and senior politicians from Roosevelt to Bush (snr.), including Kennedy and Kissinger and closely covering major news issues such as the use of the nuclear bomb, McCarthyism, Yalta, The Bay of Pigs and Vietnam. His final years saw he and his wife take ownership of the Vineyard Gazette, the famous Martha's Vineyard paper with his eldest son, Dick, as Editor.

In 1945 and, again, in 1957, he won Pulitzer Prizes for national journalism, the first for his influential coverage of the international Dumbarton Oaks Security Conference in Washington in 1944 which discussed the terms of peace and the organisation of the post-war world as WW2 reached its climax. During the conference, Reston was given access to the complete secret text being discussed by the US, British, Soviet and Chinese nations and ensured it was published. His second Pulitzer Prize was for his reporting of the 1956 Presidential election, in which Dwight Eisenhower beat Adlai Stevenson, and the effects of Eisenhower's illness on the functioning of the Federal Government. In 1986 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Born in Clydebank in 1909, his father worked in John Brown's shipyard as a machinist. He emigrated with his family in 1911 to Dayton, Ohio, where his father's brother had already settled. However, after a family quarrel, they returned to Scotland and moved to Alexandria, where his father had employment, after a short stay in Dalmuir.

His stay in Alexandria, "the place I remember best as a boy in Scotland", created fond memories of walking in the hills above Loch Lomond. In his autobiography, "Deadline - A Memoir", he recalls Alexandria as "a plain little town with a tiny square surrounded by small shops", his favourite being "one that sold a little poke of chipped fruit for a penny". He goes on to say, "I have the happiest memories of our life in that village. The atmosphere in our family was one of intimidating piety, austerity and authority, respectful of religion, education and hard work".

The family "lived in a room and kitchen in a red stone tenement house at 29 Gray Street...It had running water but the toilet was out back through 'the close' next to the midden where everybody dumped their garbage".

His mother was a determined woman of strong Presbyterian faith and the family "walked to the Church of Scotland a mile and a half up the road in the village of Renton. We then walked back for a cold lunch" before returning for the evening service. He attended the Vale of Leven Academy.

Following WW1 his father sailed off to America again to find work and, a few months later, in 1920, the family left Scotland to set up home in Dayton.

As a student, he became a useful golfer after taking up his first paid employment as a caddy at his local golf course and worked at the Springfield Daily News (Ohio) before studying at the School of Journalism of the University of Illinois. It was at University that he met his wife, Sally. 


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