The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press today issued a statement on the death January 7 of Nat Hentoff. A former columnist for The Village Voice and The Washington Post as well as other media outlets, Hentoff served on the committee’s steering committee for 44 years, from 1972 until the spring of 2016.
Tony Mauro, secretary-treasurer of the committee and a longtime friend of Hentoff, said, “Nat was an inspiration to all who fight for freedom of the press. He dedicated his professional life to challenging officialdom and to informing readers about their First Amendment rights. He was fearless in taking on those who would stifle free expression – whether on the right or on the left – and proudly called himself a troublemaker.”
Hentoff received the National Press Foundation Award for Distinguished Contributions to Journalism in 1995. At the award event, the Washington Post’s Meg Greenfield introduced him this way: “Nat Hentoff is not chic. Never has been … Never will be. Count on it. On the contrary he has other, often opposite attributes. He is independent, not tribal, in his views. And he is stubborn … Hentoff takes real risks. Challenges ideas and icons that are treasured in the community he lives in. He puts on his skunk suit and heads off to the garden party, week after week … Journalism doesn’t get any better than Nat Hentoff.”
In his farewell Village Voice column in 2009, Hentoff wrote, “Over the years, my advice to new and aspiring reporters is to remember what Tom Wicker, a first-class professional spelunker, then at The New York Times, said in a tribute to Izzy Stone: ‘He never lost his sense of rage.’ Neither have I. See you somewhere else.”