Class of 1959
Bernard Weinraub, a former correspondent for The New York Times who covered everything from presidential politics to armed conflicts in Europe and Asia, and reported from such disparate places as Hollywood, Saigon, London, Belfast, New Delhi and Washington, can thank Uncle Sam for giving him his start in journalism.
Born in 1937 and raised in the Bronx, Weinraub attended DeWitt Clinton High School before entering City College, where he was an English major. Then the military came calling and he became an Army private. He was sent to South Korea, where he was assigned to the division newspaper, and for more than the next four decades, he was a journalist.
After his discharge, he joined The Times as a copy boy in 1961, the start of a career there would last for more than four decades. Two years later, he was promoted to reporter on the newspaper’s metro staff, then under the stewardship of another City College alumnus and future Hall of Famer, A.M. Rosenthal. In 1967, Weinraub was dispatched to Saigon, and spent the next year covering the escalating conflict in Southeast Asia before returning to the metro beat.
In 1970, Weinraub packed his bags again and moved on to London and Belfast, reporting on the tensions in Northern Ireland. In 1973, he was appointed chief of The Times bureau in New Delhi. He returned to the U.S. in 1977 as a correspondent in the Washington bureau, where he wrote about the Defense Department; the presidential campaign of Walter Mondale; the White House years of Ronald Reagan and the early part of the presidency of George H.W. Bush. He was named an assistant editor in 1989, but returned to reporting in 1991, when he headed west to cover the movie industry. He reported on Hollywood until 2000, when The Times named him its Senior West Coast Cultural Correspondent and the scope of his coverage expanded beyond Hollywood and the movie makers.
Weinraub retired from The Times in January 2005 and turned from newswriting to playwriting. His first play, “The Accomplices,” dealt with the American sentiment — political and social — toward the persecution of European Jews during World War II. It was produced Off Broadway in 2007 and nominated for a Drama Desk award for outstanding play. It was also produced in Los Angeles and Miami. A second play, “Above the Fold,” opened in Los Angeles in February 2014. It was inspired by an incident in 2006 when three white members of the Duke University lacrosse team in Durham, N.C., were falsely accused of raping an African-American student from another school.
The media frenzy that surrounded the case, with some news outlets all but declaring the players guilty even before the start of any trial, was what piqued Weinraub’s curiosity.
“The case itself, to be honest, did not interest me that much,” he told The Los Angeles Times. “I was interested in . . . how the press dealt with it . . . So I began thinking, what happens to a reporter in the world I grew up in [the North] who goes [to the South] to cover a story like this? And the pressures the reporter faces? And the political nature of this, in the fact that we all believed at the very outset that the boys were so obviously guilty. Everybody believed this, including newspapers.”