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Barry Sussman

City editor of The Washington Post at the time of the Watergate burglary in 1972, Barry Sussman was soon named special Watergate editor. He directed the coverage that won a Pulitzer Prize for the newspaper. He is now the editor of the Nieman Watchdog Project at Harvard University.

Career Timeline

1956
Barry Sussman graduates from City University of New York-Brooklyn College with a bachelor’s degree in English and history.

1960
Sussman begins his journalism career as a reporter at the Bristol (Va.) Herald Courier, then a 25,000-circulation daily newspaper.

1962
He becomes managing editor of the newspaper, a position he holds for three years before moving to The Washington Post.

1965
Holding various editing positions at the Post, Sussman works his way up to city editor, responsible for coverage in the District of Columbia.

1972
Soon after the Watergate burglary, Sussman is assigned to be the special Watergate editor. He manages the day-to-day investigation of the story, working closely with Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward.

In their book, “All the President’s Men,” Bernstein and Woodward describe Sussman’s pivotal role in the progress of the investigation: “Sussman had the ability to seize facts and lock them in his memory, where they remained poised for instant recall. More than any other editor at the Post, or Bernstein and Woodward, Sussman became a walking compendium of Watergate knowledge, a reference source to be summoned when even the library failed. On deadline, he would pump these facts into a story in a constant infusion, working up a body of significant information to support what otherwise seemed like the weakest of revelations. In Sussman’s mind, everything fitted. Watergate was a puzzle and he was a collector of the pieces.”

1973
The Washington Post receives the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for its investigation into the Watergate scandal.

Sussman receives the Editor of the Year award from the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild.

1974
His first book, “The Great Coverup: Nixon and the Scandal of Watergate,” is published and is named by The New York Times as one of the best books of the year.

1981
Sussman co-founds the Washington Post/ABC News poll. He manages the poll, designs surveys and reports on the results.

1983
For four years, Sussman writes a column focused on public opinion for the Post’s National Weekly edition.

1987
United Press International hires Sussman to be managing editor for national news, overseeing 800 reporters and editors throughout the United States as well as 40 in the Washington bureau. He resigns from UPI after less than a year because he did not agree with a plan to cut 300 staff members.

1988
His second book, “What Americans Really Think,” based on the work he did on the Washington Post/ABC News poll, is published.

1995
Sussman writes his third book, “Maverick: A Life in Politics,” with Lowell P. Weicker Jr., the former U.S. senator and governor of Connecticut.

Sussman also begins his consulting career with Innovation Media Consulting, working with newspaper staffs in Spain, Portugal and other Latin American countries.

1999
During his consulting work, Sussman co-edits and contributes to world reports on newspaper industry trends for the World Association of Newspapers based in Paris.

2003
The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University hires Sussman to edit its newly created Watchdog Project, where he continues to work today. The Watchdog Project is a journalism website that “seeks to encourage more informed reporting by putting journalists in contact with authorities who can suggest appropriate, probing questions and who can serve as resources.” Murrey Marder, former chief diplomatic correspondent for The Washington Post, provides a gift to the Nieman Foundation to fund the project.

Sussman also continues to serve on the board of directors of Innovation Media Consulting.


Addtional Information and References

Awards

  • 1973 Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild First Place Award for National Reporting
  • 1973 “Editor of the Year” by the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild
  • 1973 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service awarded to The Washington Post

Books

  • “The Great Coverup: Nixon and the Scandal of Watergate.” New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1974.
  • “What Americans Really Think.” New York: Pantheon, 1988.
  • “Maverick: A Life in Politics” (with Lowell P. Weicker Jr.). Boston: Little Brown, 1995.

Sources