Class of 1955
Norman Jonas contributed distinction and insight to Business Week magazine for more than 20 years. At the time of his death in 1988, he was BW’s economics editor, a position that capped a long and illustrious career in journalism. In his honor, Business Week established a Norman Jonas Scholarship Fund at the College in 1989, with the prize going to “an outstanding student planning a career in business or economic journalism.”Stephen B. Shepard a former editor of Business Week and the founding dean of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism from 2006 until 2013, remembers Jonas well. Both men came to the magazine the same year. Shepard recalled Jonas as someone who “came to business journalism with little formal training in economics or business,” but whose desire to learn more about it made him an expert. Jonas, a liberal arts major at CCNY who graduated magna cum laude and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, started writing about economics because he was interested in the subject.
“He learned it all on his own, tutored in part by some of the economists who worked at Business Week,” Shepard said. “He quickly became one of our best, a man who wrote about the economy in ways that ordinary readers could understand and appreciate. He profiled the leading players, parsed their ideas, spotted trends — and did it all with a keen appreciation that economic theory and practice were vitally important to the country and its citizens — not just to academics. Business Week is generally credited with inventing the coverage of economics as news — thanks to the pioneering efforts of people like Leonard Silk, Soma Golden, Bill Wolman, and others. Norm Jonas fit right in to that grand tradition.”
Before attending City College, Jonas served in the U.S. Navy. A native New Yorker, he began his journalism career while still a student, joining The Wall Street Journal in 1954 as a copy editor. It was the first of several publications for which Jonas would work. He later became a reporter for the old New York Journal-American and from 1960 to 1966, he was a copy editor at The New York Times.
He went to Business Week as a copy editor in 1966. He became a contributing editor in 1969 and was named associate economics editor in 1972. The following year, he was promoted to senior economics correspondent for Business Week and for the McGraw Hill World News service and relocated to Washington, D.C. In 1985, he returned to New York as economics editor.
Jonas died suddenly in March 1988, suffering a fatal heart attack while strolling near his Brooklyn home. He was 56.