Inquirer names editorial editor

Posted: September 06, 2007

Harold Jackson, The Inquirer's deputy editorial page editor, was named editorial page editor, overseeing the opinion pages, the newspaper's publisher Brian Tierney announced yesterday.

Jackson, who succeeds Chris Satullo, grew up in Birmingham, Ala., where he attended a segregated high school. His pastor was the father of a future secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, and Jackson grew up as civil rights marchers were leaving their mark on that Southern, steelmaking city.

Jackson, who lives in South Jersey with his wife, Denice, a registered nurse, won the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing.

"Harold Jackson is an accomplished journalist" who knows the Philadelphia region well, Tierney said. "He also brings a wider point of view, growing up in Alabama during the height of the civil rights movement and remembering vividly how his family reacted to the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham."

Jackson, 54, said he planned no major changes in the editorial page, which is run separately from the newsroom. He said he would work to attract younger readers in part by running the work of younger writers. A registered Democrat, he said he has voted for Republicans and calls himself a conservative on many social issues. "I believe in pay as you go as a policy for federal spending," he said.

He keeps on his office wall a framed letter from former President George H.W. Bush, congratulating him on his 1991 Pulitzer.

He has also written columns opposing the Iraq war and called for limits on immigration and better enforcement while keeping the door open for new immigrants. "We've still got plenty of opportunity to share," he wrote in June.

Jackson is known for carefully surveying the evidence and sometimes changing his mind as he reports on an issue. "He is very thorough," said Joey Kennedy, a Birmingham News editorial writer, who shared the Pulitzer with Jackson and another colleague. "I learned a lot from him."

Jackson grew up in the Loveman's Village housing project in southwest Birmingham, where units were routinely inspected for cleanliness, he recalled in a recent column on his mother, Janye. "It was a far cry from what public housing eventually became," he wrote.

Following an older brother, Jackson attended Westminster Presbyterian Church, where many youths came under the spell of its charismatic pastor, John W. Rice Jr., whose daughter Condoleezza would go on to become a top government official. "It was his example that developed my religious faith," Jackson recalled.

He is now a deacon at Trinity Christian Chapel in Turnersville.

Jackson got a journalism scholarship to attend Baker University, a United Methodist school in eastern Kansas, where he graduated in 1975 and recently served on its board of trustees.

He worked for five years for United Press International and was an assistant national editor at The Inquirer from 1985 to 1986.

Jackson was back in Alabama from 1986 to 1994 at the Birmingham News. The Pulitzer-winning series of editorials showed how the state taxed baby formula and other items, hurting many low-income residents.

Jackson worked at the Baltimore Sun from 1994 through 1999 and returned that year to The Inquirer to coordinate the newspaper's zoned daily commentary and Sunday Voices section. He became deputy editorial page editor in 2004. "This is a wonderful and deeply gratifying example of virtue rewarded," said Satullo, who will be a columnist and direct the paper's civic-engagement program. "Harold's an excellent journalist, but he's an even better person."

Contact staff writer Karl Stark

at 215-854-5363 or

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