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College Row

Jonathan Landman '74
Alumni trustee
Jonathan Landman ’74

Jonathan Landman ’74 is elected alumni trustee

From a field of three candidates, the alumni have elected Jonathan Landman ’74 as alumni trustee. Landman is the metropolitan editor at The New York Times,where he has worked since 1987. After graduating from Amherst with a degree in history, Landman earned a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University and worked at a series of major newspapers, including The Chicago Sun- Times, Newsday and the New York Daily News, before moving to the Times. Since joining the Times, he has served as deputy Washington editor and was editor of the “Week in Review” for five years before becoming the metropolitan editor in 1999.

As metropolitan editor, Landman has been pivotal in two of the Times’ most notable recent events. He emerged as something of an editorial hero in the recent scandal over Jayson Blair, the young reporter who was found to have been fabricating facts and plagiarizing other writers over several years. Landman warned the newspaper’s senior management about Blair well before the scandal became public.

He was also responsible for overseeing the Times’ “Portraits of Grief,” the widely acclaimed series that profiled each of the victims of the terrorist attacks of September 2001. The pieces were not conventional obituaries, but life portraits, and gave all the victims equal coverage regardless of their jobs or accomplishments. Held up by other publications as exemplars of creative and insightful journalism, they provoked a remarkable reaction in the public. “It was really the most extraordinary response I’ve ever seen to anything in a newspaper,” Landman said. “We got scores of letters and e-mails from readers, all couched in the language of gratitude, which, if you’ve been around a newspaper, is stunning, because when most people [write], it’s because they’re mad about something. Some of the letters are as full of poetry as the portraits themselves.” The series was cited as a significant element of the post-attack coverage that won the newspaper seven Pulitzer Prizes in 2002.

Landman credits Amherst with preparing him for success in his job: “The New York Times . . . is a room full of smart, accomplished, independent-minded people. They are confident types; proud to be ornery. Respect for authority is not high on the list of qualities they admire. To lead them, which has been my job as the head of the newspaper’s largest department since [1999] . . . is to be reminded daily of the central lesson I gratefully took from Amherst 29 years ago. That is the lesson of intellectual humility: the certainty that no matter how deep your knowledge and powerful your convictions, you had better be ready to be wrong.”

Landman and his wife, Bonnie Van Gilder, have two children. Rachel, 19, recently completed her first year at Amherst, and Aaron, 14, will enter Stuyvesant High School in the fall. Landman is a marathon runner, cello player and a self-described “incorrigible New Yorker and Yankee fan.” His six-year term as alumni trustee began July 1.

Next: Lisa A. Raskin Named John William Ward Professor >>

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