John R. Lancellotti, who was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for his work as metropolitan editor of The (Bergen) Record, died on May 30. He was 86.
Lancellotti’s Pulitzer nomination came after a story which identified Anthony Imperiale as a vigilante who protected Newark’s North Ward during race riots in 1968. His lede: “Angry militants within the white community, many skilled in the use of firearms, judo and karate, are banding together here to meet the threat of Negro riots this summer.”
The national attention received by Lancellotti’s stories helped propel Imperiale into a Newark City Council seat, and then into his election as an independent to the State Assembly in 1971 and to the State Senate in 1973.
Lancellotti had a long career in journalism, capped by 25 years as a news reporter and producer for WCBS-TV in New York. In addition to The Record, he worked as a reporter for the Jersey Journal, the Reporter Dispatch in White Plains, and several other newspapers.
A graduate of Fordham University, he served four years in the U.S. Navy. He is survived by several cousins and five godchildren.
In retirement, Lancellotti began writing memoirs, novels and poetry that he never submitted for publication, including this poem: “Early to bed. Early to rise. Gives me a headache AND puffs out my eyes.”