Longtime ‘Houston Chronicle’ Publisher Dies

(AP) Richard J.V. Johnson, longtime publisher of the Houston Chronicle whose career at the newspaper spanned more than four decades, has died, the paper said. He was 75.

Johnson died Saturday at home, the paper said. His cause of death was not reported.

He started working as a copywriter in the promotion department in 1956 and held seven jobs before he was named president in 1973 and publisher in 1987. He retired in 2002.

“”He was an everyman,”” said Jack Sweeney, who succeeded Johnson. “”He identified with everybody at the paper, no matter what his or her job.””

Johnson orchestrated the Chronicle’s transformation from an afternoon to a morning paper and geared it compete with the now-defunct Houston Post. Years later, he engineered the sale of the Chronicle to the Hearst Corp.

He also served as chairman of the American Newspaper Publishers Association (now the Newspaper Association of America), and he helped introduce newspapers as a classroom tool.

Survivors include his wife of 50 years, Belle, two children, three grandchildren and a sister.

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