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Reginald Stuart

Newspaper correspondent and corporate recruiter Reginald Stuart was born on November 26, 1948 in Nashville Tennessee. He was raised by his parents with his older siblings, William H. Stuart, Jr., and Cassandra Stuart Woods. While attending Pearl High School, in Nashville, he worked as a disc jockey and had his own radio show. In 1965, he graduated from Pearl High and, three years later, earned his B.S. degree in sociology from Tennessee State University. After working a short time for The Nashville Tennessean as a general assignment reporter and for WSIX-TV-AM-FM, the local ABC affiliate, Stuart received his M.S. degree in journalism from Columbia University in the City of New York in 1971.

In 1974, Stuart became a business and finance reporter for The New York Times. During his 13 years there, he also worked as national correspondent bureau chief in Detroit, Michigan, Atlanta, Georgia, and Miami, Florida. He covered the 1979 federal government bailout of the Chrysler Corporation. Stuart released a book based on the stories, Bailout: The Story Behind America’s Billion Dollar Gamble on the “New” Chrysler Corporation. In Atlanta, Stuart reported on police investigations of a series of unsolved cases of missing and murdered children. He continued to write articles on the federal government’s deregulation of major industries throughout the 1980s.

In 1987, Stuart left the Times and joined Knight Ridder Newspapers, Inc., as the Washington-based national affairs correspondent for the Philadelphia Daily News. There, he covered the 1988 presidential election and 1990 Census. Stuart’s 1994 Emerge Magazine article about Kemba Smith, a young woman sent to prison for 24.5 years based on new federal mandatory sentencing laws regarding illegal drugs, was credited with generating the popular and political support that persuaded then President Bill Clinton to commute her prison sentence to time served. Afterward, he moved to the Knight Ridder Washington News Bureau news desk as an assistant editor, a post he held through 1996. In 1997, he was hired as Knight Ridder’s corporate recruiter, finding individuals for newsroom and business positions, and coordinating Knight Ridder’s early career talent development programs, including the Knight Ridder Scholars Program and Native American Internship Program.

Stuart was elected national president of the Society of Professional Journalists in 1994. He received the Ida B. Wells Award for promoting diversity in journalism, the Leadership in Diversity Award from the Asian American Journalists Association and the Wells Memorial Key from the Society of Professional Journalists. Stuart is married to Daryl Thomas Stuart with whom he has three children, Reginald II, Nicholas and Andrea.

Reginald Stuart was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on 08/29/2012.

Accession Number

A2012.231

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/29/2012

Last Name

Stuart

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

Ford Green Elementary School

Washington Junior High School

Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School

Tennessee State University

Columbia University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Reginald

Birth City, State, Country

Nashville

HM ID

STU03

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Tennessee

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

He Was A Pretty Good Fella, But He Could Have Been Better.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

11/26/1948

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Cobbler (Peach), Greens (Turnip), Macaroni, Cheese, Bread (Rolls), Barbecue Pork

Short Description

Newspaper correspondent and corporate recruiter Reginald Stuart (1948 - ) , earned his M.S. degree in journalism from Columbia University in New York City, and wrote Bailout: The Story Behind America’s Billion Dollar Gamble on the “New” Chrysler Corporation, a book about the government’s 1979 financial bailout of the Chrysler Corporation.

Employment

Nashville Tennessean

WSIX TV

New York Times

Knight Ridder Newspapers

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Reginald Stuart's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Reginald Stuart lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Reginald Stuart describes his maternal family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Reginald Stuart describes his maternal family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Reginald Stuart talks about his mother, Maxie Allen

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Reginald Stuart describes his paternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Reginald Stuart talks about his parents and St. Luke CME church

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Reginald Stuart describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Reginald Stuart talks about his siblings and the proximity of his extended family

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Reginald Stuart describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Reginald Stuart describes his childhood home

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Reginald Stuart describes the sounds of growing up in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Reginald Stuart talks about his father's Scrabble talent

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Reginald Stuart remembers listening to music at Club Baron in Nashville, Tennessee, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Reginald Stuart remembers listening to music at Club Baron in Nashville, Tennessee, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Reginald Stuart describes the sights and smells of growing up in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Reginald Stuart recalls creating a neighborhood newspaper as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Reginald Stuart describes his elementary school memories

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Reginald Stuart describes his neighborhood newspaper, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Reginald Stuart describes his neighborhood newspaper, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Reginald Stuart talks about his epilepsy

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Reginald Stuart describes attending Washington Junior High School and Pearl High School in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Reginald Stuart recalls Civil Rights activism in Nashville, Tennessee during the early 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Reginald Stuart remembers the integration of Nashville, Tennessee in 1965

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Reginald Stuart describes his activities at Pearl High School in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Reginald Stuart talks about attending Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Reginald Stuart describes managing The Fabulous Nu-Tones during college

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Reginald Stuart talks about being a disc jockey during college

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Reginald Stuart remembers WAC radio

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Reginald Stuart talks about regional differences in musical tastes

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Reginald Stuart talks about majoring in sociology at Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Reginald Stuart describes his professors at Tennessee State University in Nashaville, Tennessee

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Reginald Stuart talks about being hired at the Nashville Tennessean in 1968

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Reginald Stuart talks about John Seigenthaler

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Reginald Stuart talks about his job search after graduating from Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Reginald Stuart describes working at the Nashville Tennessean

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Reginald Stuart talks about how the journalism profession has changed since he started

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Reginald Stuart talks about working for WSIX, the ABC news affiliate in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Reginald Stuart describes the stories he covered for ABC TV

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Reginald Stuart talks about the signal problem with WSIX TV

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Reginald Stuart describes his decision to attend Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Reginald Stuart describes covering the 1970 election while at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Reginald Stuart recalls turning down a job offer from Walter Cronkite

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Reginald Stuart talks about the stories he covered in Nashville, Tennessee in the early 1970s

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Reginald Stuart recalls being hired by The New York Times in 1974, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Reginald Stuart recalls being hired by The New York Times in 1974, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Reginald Stuart talks about becoming the business writer at The New York Times

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Reginald Stuart talks about covering the 1970s energy crisis

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Reginald Stuart talks about being the New York Times Bureau Chief in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Reginald Stuart talks about covering Chrysler's Lee Iacocca as the New York Times Bureau Chief in Detroit

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Reginald Stuart talks about covering the Haitian immigrant crisis as the New York Times Miami Bureau Chief

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Reginald Stuart talks about covering Wayne Williams, an alleged serial killer of children in Atlanta, Georgia, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Reginald Stuart talks about covering Wayne Williams, an alleged serial killer of children in Atlanta, Georgia, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Reginald Stuart describes leaving The New York Times in 1987

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Reginald Stuart describes covering the 1988 Presidential campaign for the Philadelphia Daily News

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Reginald Stuart describes the 1988 Democratic Presidential debate

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Reginald Stuart talks about working for Knight Ridder Newspapers

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Reginald Stuart describes the Knight Ridders Scholars and other programs

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Reginald Stuart describes writing about Kemba Smith for Emerge magazine

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Reginald Stuart talks about mandatory sentencing drug laws

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Reginald Stuart describes Kemba Smith's story

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Reginald Stuart talks about the public's reaction to his story "Kemba's Nightmare"

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Reginald Stuart talks about following up on his story "Kemba's Nightmare"

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Reginald Stuart talks about the social impact of his story "Kemba's Nightmare"

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Reginald Stuart talks about his awards

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Reginald Stuart talks about being a corporate recruiter for McClatchy

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Reginald Stuart describes the guests at the National Press Club luncheon, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Reginald Stuart describes the guests at the National Press Club luncheon, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Reginald Stuart talks about his involvement with the Society for Professional Journalists

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Reginald Stuart talks about The National Association of Black Journalists

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Reginald Stuart reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Reginald Stuart describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Reginald Stuart talks about his family

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Reginald Stuart reflects upon his career

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Reginald Stuart describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Reginald Stuart narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$6

DAStory

8$3

DATitle
Reginald Stuart describes working at the Nashville Tennessean
Reginald Stuart talks about covering the 1970s energy crisis
Transcript
I had a wonderful time with that newspaper [Nashville Tennessean]. I knew nothing about what I was doing. It was so obvious that I hadn't worked on the college paper, I hadn't worked on anything that even resembled a newspaper. And they took me in and they kept me because I had spark and energy and I wasn't afraid of anything. I was too dumb to be afraid of anything. And they said okay if he's got those ingredients, we can teach him how to be a journalist. And so the first couple of weeks I was writing--I had little stories they'd give me and I'd go out and write 'em and bring 'em in. And one day my city editor, a guy named Herman Eskew [ph.], called me up to his desk and he said I have a question for you. I said yeah. I'm, you know. He says do you read this newspaper? I said I read it every morning, I love it. He said well how do the stories you write differ from the ones you see in the paper? So it's a learning moment, right, I said there's a trick question going in here somewhere. So I picked the paper up and I started reading it and I said well, I said first of all, I said your sentences are shorter than mine. I said your paragraphs are shorter than mine. He said yeah, anything else? I said yeah, you have quotes in the, in the paper. He said do you think you can do the same thing for your stories that you see in the paper? I'd been writing news columns position for three weeks and they'd had it. I had like three sentences in a paragraph, right. Like 50 words per sentence, no quotes. It was driving them crazy. But I had stories, I had stories. I had stories come out of the wazzoo, cause I was just out there really trying to get stuff. That was the first problem. The second problem was I did not know what beats were. And on newspapers, all assignments are like beats. Like in schools you have first grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade, right, that was your beat, you teach this grade. In the news business, you have courts, cops, city council, mayor's office, Health Department, school board, and so on. I didn't know that. I came to work every morning and would just start calling people trying to find out what's going on. And so the best idea that came out of those phone calls, I'd go to the editor and say I got a story idea. Well this went on for about eight months and finally they called me in again and said listen, do you know everybody in this newsroom want you fired? I said no, why? He says because you're going across everybody's god damn beats. I said beats, what's a beat? So, so he, he didn't call me dumb as a box of rocks at that point, but he, he had a serious conversation. He says you have to understand how newsrooms work. Every--what does so-and-so do? I said well they go to the courthouse every day. What does so-and-so do? He goes to the [unclear]. These are called beats and you're trampling over their beats. You gotta find your own beat, all right, or they gone run you out of here. So what did I do? I found my own beat in Nashville, transportation and aviation. We had maybe 30 flights a day, a small airport. We don't have any big transportation problems, just traffic jams that everybody has, small town traffic jams. But I turned that beat into a very productive beat and they were impressed. Fortunately, American Alliance had a strike. So I was at the airport covering the strike, no air service at National, right. Good story. Fortunately, I talked to the Traffic Parking Commission members and they were about to change parking rates. And about to introduce one-way streets, heaven forbid. So I got to write all these stories and lo and behold, I'm in the paper you know two or three times a week. I'm not on anybody's beat. I'm writing stories. They have short paragraphs, they have quotes, I'm getting there. And that was my, my ride at Tennessean and it was a great ride.$And I'll tell you the, the funniest story. A whole lot of stories, but it was a funny story, is a--it was a crook story. In the early '70s [1970s], we had this--the convoluted energy crisis, and, and they were keeping gasoline and oil offshore, and that allowed the fuel shortages for power plants to run amok. And so coal prices went up because coal mines was still using coal. There were a lot of, there were a lot of get rich quick coal companies that came up overnight. And what they would do is they were just getting into work on strip mining and, and, and traditional mining, deep mining, you wanna mine on the ground [unclear]. Strip mining is gone on the side of the mountain, rake of the vegetation forestation over time and you get the surface coal. It's, it's a lower BTU [British thermal unit] content, it's cheaper. And so a couple of guys down in my old home state of Tennessee, right, got slick. And so what they would do is they would, would do something called layer loading. Layer loading is where you go out and dig up some dirt, right, put it in the bottom of the railcar and then top it off with some of this coal we just strip mined. Now the way you inspect coal in those days, right, you'd bring the railcar up to a utility yard, right. And they put a probe in the top of the car in different spots. The probe went down about, you know, eight, nine inches. And so it would always show coal, right. You accept the railcar and it's your, you just paid a thousand dollars for it, right. Then when you take the car to the next stop and you dump the car, you got a railcar full of dirt. And so these guys were, were getting away with about--ripping off about fifteen, twenty utilities around the country, sending layer loaded coal, rail coal cars. And so I wrote about that and, and that became one of the most hilarious stories, crook stories you could find of that time.