Pulitzer-winning 'NYT' Reporter Nan Robertson Dies at 83

By: Nan Robertson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter who wrote a book about female employees' fight for equal treatment at the newspaper, has died. She was 83.

Robertson died Tuesday of heart disease at a nursing home in Rockville, said Jane Freundel Levey, her stepdaughter-in-law.

The veteran reporter won a 1983 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing for a personal piece - an unsparing account of her sudden encounter with toxic shock syndrome. The article, published in The New York Times Magazine, detailed how the illness led to the amputation of the end joints of all her fingers except for her thumbs.

Robertson began working for the Times in 1955, when women were frequently assigned to write about topics such as fashion, shopping and interior decorating. Over more than three decades with the newspaper, she was promoted to the metropolitan staff and then to the Washington bureau, where she covered the first lady and the first family, and then to the paper's bureau in Paris.

Robertson was not one of the named plaintiffs in the 1974 federal class-action suit filed on behalf of 550 women at The Times. The lawsuit, which claimed women were paid less and shortchanged on assignments and advancement, was detailed in her 1992 book, "The Girls in the Balcony: Women, Men, and The New York Times."

The newspaper ultimately settled the case for $350,000 in 1978 and agreed to an affirmative-action plan.

After moving to Paris in 1973 and spending more than two years as a correspondent there, Robertson returned to New York to seek treatment for alcoholism, a battle she wrote about in her 1988 book, "Getting Better: Inside Alcoholics Anonymous."

In her decades in the business, Robertson mentored a generation of younger reporters, some who became prominent names at the Times, The Washington Post and CNN, Freundel Levey said. After retiring from the Times in 1988, she taught journalism at the University of Maryland and elsewhere.


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