News / USA

    VOANews.com Executive Editor Dies

    VOA's Jack Payton, then a reporter for United Press International, shakes hands with Pope John Paul II during an audience at the Vatican in 1982VOA's Jack Payton, then a reporter for United Press International, shakes hands with Pope John Paul II during an audience at the Vatican in 1982
    x
    VOA's Jack Payton, then a reporter for United Press International, shakes hands with Pope John Paul II during an audience at the Vatican in 1982
    VOA's Jack Payton, then a reporter for United Press International, shakes hands with Pope John Paul II during an audience at the Vatican in 1982
    Jack Payton, executive editor of VOA’s principal English-language web site, www.voanews.com, has died at the age of 69.

    Payton suffered an apparent heart attack while at a movie theater with his wife Sharrie on Friday (Oct. 4). He had served with the web site since 2012 after a 45-year career in print and broadcasting that took him around the world and included many of the biggest stories of his time. He had held a number of senior positions since joining VOA’s news division in 1999.
     
    VOA Director David Ensor lamented his passing as a huge loss for the Voice of America and his many friends in the agency. "He has left behind a legacy of  young people who learned their trade at his side and will carry forward his high standards of journalism."
     
    VOA  reporters and editors expressed their personal shock and sadness in a wave of heartfelt messages, with many remembering Payton as a mentor whose advice and guidance helped shape their careers.
     
    "Jack was an old fashioned newsman in the classic sense," said VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone. "He had that perpetual curiosity and an appreciation for a good story.  As an editor, Jack made all of us better writers.  He was one of those people who brought out the best in his co-workers."

    Payton was born and educated in New Orleans. After earning a degree in English literature and philosophy at Tulane University, he began his career in journalism there with United Press International.

    The wire service brought him from New Orleans to its New York headquarters in 1972, and onward to Europe a few months later. Based in Brussels in 1973, Payton traveled widely in drought-stricken West Africa. Later that year he was appointed bureau chief for Israel, arriving just a month before the Middle East war that broke out on October 6, 1973.

    Jack Payton (r), then a reporter for UPI, accompanies Pope John Paul II to Rome after a trip to Turkey in 1979Jack Payton (r), then a reporter for UPI, accompanies Pope John Paul II to Rome after a trip to Turkey in 1979
    x
    Jack Payton (r), then a reporter for UPI, accompanies Pope John Paul II to Rome after a trip to Turkey in 1979
    Jack Payton (r), then a reporter for UPI, accompanies Pope John Paul II to Rome after a trip to Turkey in 1979
    Payton became UPI's manager for Italy in 1976, and from his base in Rome covered stories that dominated the world’s attention over the next seven years, including the rise of Red Brigades terrorism in Italy, and Pope John Paul II’s travels to Africa, Asia, Europe and North America.  He reported from Israel and Lebanon when fighting broke out in 1978 and again in 1982, when Israeli forces invaded Lebanon and advanced into Beirut.

    Payton left UPI as its foreign editor in Washington to join the St. Petersburg Times newspaper in Florida in 1985. He supervised a network of foreign correspondents and reported from capitals around the world, including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait during the first Gulf War in 1991.

    Those experiences informed Payton's decisions when he joined the Voice of America in 1999 as an assignments editor, responsible for discussing and arranging news coverage with foreign and domestic correspondents and reporters. 

    Co-workers praised Payton’s skills as an editor and mentor, and the lifelong passion for journalism that was evident throughout his career. As VOA Europe Correspondent Al Pessin said, “He had the ability to help you do your job and let you do your job at the same time.”

    Veteran VOA correspondent André DeNesnera became news director of the U.S.-funded broadcast network soon after Payton arrived, and the two became close friends. DeNesnera noted that Payton keenly understood the need for objectivity and balance in all news reports, and was the strongest advocate of the VOA Charter, which requires its staff to sustain those values. DeNesnera said Payton defended VOA journalists and their stories, “whether or not [they] ruffled feathers anywhere up or down the line.”

    Payton is survived by his wife Sharrie, his mother and two sisters.

    You May Like

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.