- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 4, 2006

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Barry Bingham Jr., the newspaper publisher who led the Courier-Journal and Louisville Times, which won three Pulitzer Prizes before the newspapers were sold as the family battled over finances, died at his home April 3 from complications of pneumonia. He was 72.

Mr. Bingham, a third-generation publisher of the family-owned newspapers, took over in June 1971 from his father, Barry Bingham Sr., and emphasized ethics and public service journalism.

The younger Mr. Bingham led the newspapers until his family sold them in 1986 despite his bitter opposition.

The newspapers won Pulitzers in 1976 for photos of court-ordered busing; in 1978 for a series of articles on a deadly hotel fire; and in 1980 for reporting on Cambodian refugees in Southeast Asia.

Dissension among the children surfaced in 1984, when daughter Sallie Bingham challenged her brother’s control of the companies. She and her sister, Eleanor Bingham Miller, were ousted from the board of directors. Sallie Bingham turned down a family offer of $26.3 million.

The newspapers were sold by Mr. Bingham’s family to Gannett Co. Inc. in 1986 for more than $300 million. The Louisville Times, an afternoon publication, was dissolved in 1987.

His family had placed the press properties on the market after nearly two years of infighting. Barry Bingham Sr. said he couldn’t find a solution that was fair to everyone.

His son, though, issued a statement saying the decision was “in my opinion, both irrational and ill-advised. … It is difficult not to view this action as a betrayal of the traditions and principles which I have sought to perpetuate.”

A few days later, he softened his comments and said he had agreed to stay on as publisher until the sale was finalized. His father died in 1988, and his mother, Mary, died in 1995.

Mr. Bingham saw the future of computer-based media long before the rise of the Internet. In a 1984 story published in the Courier-Journal, Mr. Bingham proposed that computers eventually would replace newsprint as the medium for newspapers.

Calling newsprint an “arcane” way to deliver information, he saw computer delivery of news as a solution for the rising cost of newsprint and other problems, such as ink-stained fingers.

“Readers would get their news from a computer monitor, like a television screen. They’d switch the thing on and push a button for news, and an up-to-the-minute front page would scroll past,” the article said.

Survivors include his wife of 43 years, Edith; his two daughters, Emily Bingham and Molly Bingham; and his two sisters.

Molly Bingham, a freelance photographer, was in the headlines in 2003 when she and three other journalists were held briefly in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison shortly after the war broke out.


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