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Allen H. "Al" Neuharth, Founder Of USA Today, The Freedom Forum And The Newseum, Dead At 89

WASHINGTON, April 19, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Allen H. "Al" Neuharth, founder of USA Today, the Freedom Forum and the Newseum, died Friday, April 19, 2013, in Cocoa Beach, Fla. He was 89.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130419/DC98384)

Family members said he died of complications from a recent fall and passed peacefully at home with his family by his side.

Included among Neuharth's many professional achievements:

  • Founder of USA Today, the nation's largest circulation newspaper, in 1982
  • Founder of the Freedom Forum, a nonpartisan foundation that champions the First Amendment as a cornerstone of democracy, in 1991
  • Founder of the Newseum, one of Washington, D.C.'s most popular attractions, located on Pennsylvania Avenue between the U.S. Capitol and the White House. The interactive museum of news first opened in Arlington, Va., in 1997 and moved to Washington in 2008
  • Founder of Florida Today, the Space Coast's newspaper, in 1966
  • Founder of SoDak Sports, a weekly newspaper in his home state of South Dakota, in 1952. It went broke in 1954, and Neuharth often said it failed "because of my mismanagement."

Neuharth was chairman, chief executive officer and president of Gannett Co. Inc., the nation's largest newspaper group, from 1976 to 1989. After his retirement, he wrote a weekly column, "Plain Talk," which appeared in USA Today and other newspapers.

"Al will be remembered for many trailblazing achievements in the newspaper business, but one of his most enduring legacies will be his devotion to educating and training new journalists," said Jim Duff, president and chief executive officer of the Freedom Forum, and CEO of the Newseum and the Diversity Institute. "He taught them the importance of not only a free press but a fair one."

He loved to ignite debate on subjects ranging from politics to sports to family matters. With each column, he insisted on including a "feedback" section to give those he mentioned in the column a chance to agree or disagree with him. He never missed writing a column in 24 years.

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