Harold Eugene Martin, a retired newspaper executive who won the Pulitzer Prize for special reporting, has died after a long career with newspapers from New York to Texas. He was 83.
Martin, who died Wednesday at a nursing home in Bedford, Texas, won the Pulitzer in 1970 when he was publisher of the Montgomery Advertiser and Alabama Journal for a yearlong series of articles that exposed the use of state prisoners in drug experimentation. He had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.
Martin was president of Jefferson-Pilot Publications and publisher of The Beaumont Enterprise and Journal in Texas when he retired in 1985 after the Greensboro, N.C., chain sold its newspapers to the Hearst Corporation.
Martin worked as assistant business manager of the Syracuse Herald-Journal, assistant production manager of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat and assistant general manager of The Birmingham News.
He was publisher of the Montgomery papers from 1963 until 1970, when he also became editor.
Three years later, he was named president of Multimedia’s newspaper division, vice president of the parent corporation, and a member of its management board.
Ray Jenkins, who served as executive editor of the Montgomery newspapers, said no editor could have asked for a better publisher.
“His philosophy was good journalism is profitable. He was very committed to good journalism,” Jenkins said.
While Martin was publisher in Montgomery, then-Gov. George C. Wallace was often a target of editorials. Wallace retaliated against the newspapers by blocking the state-run liquor business from putting any ads in the papers ? a ban that Jenkins estimated cost $500,000 in lost revenue.
“Harold Martin never flinched during that time,” Jenkins said.
Martin later joined Jefferson-Pilot Publications as president and made his headquarters in Beaumont while overseeing dailies in Laredo and Texas City as well as five weekly community newspapers in Texas and other papers in Florida and Oklahoma.
He and his wife, Jean Martin, were also co-owners of The Herald Citizen, a daily in Cookeville, Tenn.; News-Observer, a weekly in Crossett, Ark.; and The Baxter Bulletin, the largest weekly in Arkansas at Mountain Home.
He was on the board of directors of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association for 20 years.
After retiring, he joined the Executive Service Corp. and helped reorganize the Methodist Church’s publishing operations in Fort Worth.
The visitation will be held Friday in the chapel of Greenwood Funeral Home in Fort Worth. The funeral will be 11:30 a.m. Saturday at the funeral home chapel. Martin will be buried on Tuesday at the Greenwood Cemetery in Montgomery, with a graveside service. Visitation will be at 1 p.m.