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

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

US Wildlife Service Begins Probe of Killing of Cecil the Lion

Minnesota man accused of killing beast is in hiding, has been asked to contact US officials; White House to review extradition petition More

Video Kerry Five-Nation Tour to Cover Security, Iran Nuclear Deal

Secretary of state will visit Egypt, Qatar, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam to discuss security issues, Iran nuclear deal, Trans-Pacific Partnership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs