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Gordon Bishop

Award winning Star-Ledger reporter dies

Gordon Bishop was Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1971

By David Wildstein, April 29 2018 1:17 pm

Gordon Bishop, an award-winning environmental reporter who spent 27 years at the Star-Ledger, died on April 25.  He was 80.

He was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1971.

He was a reporter for the North Jersey Herald News from 1959 to 1969, starting out as a theater and critic.  He won the New Jersey Press Association Best Column award in 1965 and the Best Reporting award in 1966.

Bishop joined the Star-Ledger in 1969 as a reporter, features writer and columnist.  He was a four-time winner of the New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists Public Service award, eight congressional commendations, and twelve national and fifteen state journalism awards.  He was New Jersey’s first Journalist of the Year.

From 1988 to 1996, he hosted New Jersey Issues, a weekly syndicated television show.  Bishop was the author of thirteen books.

Another celebrated Star-Ledger columnist, Bob Braun, shared a great story about Bishop’s role at the newspaper.

“In the mid-60s, the late Mort Pye, the editor of The Star-Ledger, set out to surpass –in circulation and influence — The (Newark) Evening News. His plan, simply, was to make the newspaper the must-read journal for readers with a variety of interests. He assembled a team of specialists in such fields as the law, the environment, education, and health. Pye gave his specialists great editorial leeway in investigating and writing about their fields,” Braun said. “One of those specialists was Gordon Bishop. He was an extraordinarily energetic and impassioned newspaperman. He earned a statewide reputation for long, detailed series that advocated for causes like cleaning up New Jersey’s shoreline and promoting stricter recycling laws.  Pye’s approach was often controversial because editorial views often bled through the news reporting enterprise—but it was successful. The Star-Ledger did surpass and eventually swallow up The Newark News — and Bishop, who worked with the full support and encouragement of his editor,  won a reputation as the leading environmental writer in the state.”

When Pye retired in 1996 after 39 years as the Star-Ledger editor, the Newhouse family brought in Jim Willse of the New York Daily News to replace him.  That left some veteran reporters wondering about their fate under the new regime.

“Let’s hope we don’t throw out the baby with the bath water.  By the bath water, I mean the substance,” Bishop told the New York Times at the time.  He was gone the following year.

After leaving the Star-Ledger, Bishop worked as an aide to Assemblyman Joseph Azzolina (R-Middletown), where he played a key role in efforts to bring the USS New Jersey to Camden.

He later wrote columns for the Atlantic Highlands Herald and PoliticsNJ.com.  He lectured at Rutgers University, Princeton University and Brookdale Community College.

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