Frank A. Daniels Jr.

Daniels rose to fame and national prominence during his tenure at The News & Observer, establishing a legacy of exemplary journalism and public service to inform and empower the people of North Carolina.

Today, the University of North Carolina Hussman School of Journalism and Media announced a new executive-in-residence program established to honor Frank A. Daniels Jr., the legendary president and publisher of The News & Observer and board chairman of The Pilot newspaper. 

The program, established by members of the Daniels family, will provide students and faculty at UNC Hussman with the opportunity to work with and learn from renowned thought leaders from the field of journalism, media and related professions. 

“Everyone can use a Frank Jr. in their lives,” said David Woronoff, publisher of The Pilot. David is Daniels' nephew, and a member of the UNC Hussman board of advisers.

“For the better part of my life, I’ve been the beneficiary of his wisdom and counsel. This executive-in-residence program allows the legacy that I was so fortunate to enjoy to be shared with future generations of North Carolinians.”

The program will honor the extraordinary legacy of leadership and public service Daniels created in his 26 years at the helm of The News & Observer by bringing top talent to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus to inspire and teach the next generation of journalism and media professionals.

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Frank A. Daniels Jr., center, is honored by University of North Carolina chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz, left, and Susan King, dean of the UNC School of Media and Journalism, right, announcing the Frank A. Daniels, Jr. Executive In Residence program at the UNC Hussman School of Journalism during a ceremony on Tuesday. | Courtesy of Robert Willett/The News & Observer

“Frank A. Daniels Jr. has built a legacy of truth-telling, education, democracy and courageous journalism across the state of North Carolina,” said UNC-CH Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz. “This new program will prepare the next generation of media leaders and give them the unique opportunity to work closely with a thought leader at the top of their profession. We are grateful for his service to our university and his efforts to move North Carolina forward.”

Daniels rose to fame and national prominence during his tenure at The News & Observer, establishing a legacy of exemplary journalism and public service to inform and empower the people of North Carolina. His family is now honoring that work and extending his legacy through the program at UNC Hussman to help prepare the next generation of media leaders.

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Frank A. Daniels Jr., addresses a gathering of friends and family along with University of North Carolina chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz, left, at Tuesday's ceremony. | Courtesy of Robert Willett/The News & Observer

“This executive-in-residence program extends Frank’s legacy to future generations and celebrates his position as the dean of North Carolina newspaper publishers and media innovators,” said UNC Hussman Dean Susan King. “Thanks to the Daniels family, our school will continue to learn from media leaders who, like Frank, believe that shining light in dark places enables citizens to make informed decisions in our democracy.”

The executive-in-residence will lead a semester-long course in their area of expertise, leveraging their networks to involve other leading journalism and media professionals to work with UNC Hussman students and impact the larger campus community. In addition to the course, the program will establish the Frank A. Daniels Jr. Lecture, a capstone event featuring the discussion of emerging issues at the intersection of media, politics and public discourse. The executive-in-residence will deliver the Daniels Lecture or recruit a cutting-edge thought-leader as the speaker.

Under the direction of Frank Daniels Jr., The News & Observer was recognized widely as one of the best state capital newspaper in America and a leading progressive voice in the South.

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Earl Johnson Jr., Frank Daniels Jr., and Fred Crisp during a reception after Tuesday's announcement. | Courtesy of Robert Willett/The News & Observer

“Frank ran The News & Observer not just as a business, but also as the embodiment of his progressive and optimistic vision for his community and state,” said Hugh Stevens, Daniels’ longtime attorney. “He provided the news department with the people and resources to investigate incompetent or corrupt public officials without fear or favor. Under his direction the editorial page endorsed minority candidates who became Raleigh’s first Black mayor and Wake County’s first Black sheriff; and assiduously fought for transparency and accountability on the part of public officials and institutions.”

In the 1980s, instead of fighting efforts to require recycled content in newspaper printing, Daniels created The News & Observer Recycling Company with the goal of picking up and recycling every newspaper they delivered.

He led The News & Observer through early innovations in digital publishing, launching The News & Observer Times in 1994 as the first online newspaper the same year he started Nando.net, the first commercial internet service provider. The News & Observer won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 1996.

Daniels has been a stalwart supporter of education in North Carolina. As a member of the Raleigh Junior Chamber of Commerce, he was part of the group that engineered the merger of the Raleigh and Wake County Public School systems that enabled the systems to integrate successfully and become one of the leading large school systems in the country. Daniels has served on the University of North Carolina Board of Governors and as a trustee at the Institute of Private Enterprise at the University of North Carolina, Appalachian State University, Saint Mary's College and Peace College.

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Frank Daniels Jr. and wife Julia Daniels during a reception on Tuesday. | Courtesy of Robert Willett/The News & Observer

At UNC, the Frank A. Daniels Professorship in Human Services Policy Administration in the School of Social Work supports the work of Mimi Chapman, Ph.D., an expert in child and adolescent well-being and immigrant youth and families. Chapman is also the chair of the university’s faculty council. The Frank A. Daniels Jr. Distinguished Professorship at the School of Education is held by Lora Cohen-Vogel, Ph.D., a leading expert of public policy and education who prepares UNC students to scale programs that raise outcomes for historically underserved students in North Carolina and across the nation.

Daniels served as chairman of the Associated Press, the American Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation, the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association and served on the board of Landmark Communications. His leadership extended to many civic organizations including the United Way, United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County and Rex Hospital.

(3) comments

Stephen Later

A giant of the latter half of twentieth-century North Carolina, Mr. Daniels brought a commitment to the betterment of our State to all that he did. It is always fair to disagree with the positions of others on political issues, and I have not frequently agreed with him on some of the questions of our day, but one cannot question his good faith and belief in his fellow citizens and his belief in the use of his newspaper as a force for good. This act of generosity, one of many in his life, simply underscores that he was always generous with his treasure rather than just with rhetoric. He is a good and wonderful man who has contributed vastly to our State. I, for one, am grateful for him.

Lipstick on a pig. Just like naming the Fulbright Scholarship after a segregationist, Bill Clinton’s mentor, Arkansas Democrat Senator William

Fulbright. Or the Pulitzer Prize after the publisher of tabloids. In this case a descendent of the infamous Josephus Daniels, instigator of the Wilmington Massacre of Black Republicans who set the tone for one of the worst of the leftist newspapers that has yet to declare bankruptcy, the N&O. Does the Daniels family still have a controlling interest in The Pilot?

jimmie canabera

Yes, the Daniels history is not one of which to be proud but we cannot control the actions of previous generations. Josephus Daniels founder of the News and Observer was a vehement white supremacist and segregationist who founded a newspaper to help carry that message. He was an American newspaper editor and publisher from the 1880s until his death; he controlled the Raleigh News and Observer, at the time North Carolina's largest newspaper, for decades.

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