At the time of his Pulitzer Prize, John S. Knight owned and edited eight newspapers, including daily titles in Akron, Charlotte, Detroit, Miami, and Tallahassee. His influence, through the editorial pages of the Knight papers, led the politicians of the day to seek his support. He endorsed Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, but became an unflinching if respectful critic as Johnson escalated U.S. military involvement in Vietnam, which Knight had opposed from the start as a misguided and unwinnable effort.
The editorials that won the 1968 Pulitzer Prize were all published in 1967, when close to half-a-million U.S. troops were in Vietnam. Knight's measured, reasoned pieces were a Main Street voice of opposition to the war, but he also defended the right of young protestors to vigorously challenge their elders. He accepted an invitation from President Johnson to travel with other journalists to Vietnam in Sep., 1967, but it reaffirmed his belief that there was no viable military solution. Another 38,000 Americans would die before most troops withdrew in 1973.
The Knight Foundation has released the editorials in a new interactive website.
John Shively Knight (Oct. 26, 1894 – June 16, 1981) was a newspaper editor and publisher who founded the group that became Knight Ridder.
Jack Knight had a simple philosophy about journalism: "Get the truth and print it." He was committed to high quality, independent journalism that served local communities and the public interest.
Knight inherited his father's newspaper, the Akron Beacon Journal, in 1933, when the paper was struggling and the nation was in the depths of the Depression. He built it into a successful business, and in 1937 bought the Miami Herald, beginning a nationwide expansion that eventually included the Charlotte Observer, Detroit Free Press, Philadelphia Inquirer, St. Paul Pioneer Press, Macon Telegraph, and San Jose Mercury News. Knight Ridder, the successor to Knight Newspapers, became the largest circulation newspaper group in the country.
He co-founded Knight Foundation with his brother, James L. Knight, who was also his partner in the newspaper business. The foundation continues his support for informed and engaged communities through programs in the arts, communities, journalism, and media innovation.
The Knight Foundation is a sponsor of The Vietnam War Summit.