Virgil M. (Red) Newton Jr.

Virgil M. (Red) Newton Jr.

Managing editor of the Tampa Tribune, an early advocate of federal legislation to limit government secrecy, Virgil Newton was credited with first bringing FOI to the attention of Sigma Delta Chi/Society of Professional Journalists.

He chaired the society’s national FOI committee from 1952-63, and served as Sigma Delta Chi national president in 1959-60. Former American Society of Newspaper Editors President James Pope praised him as “fiery and outspoken,” a man with a “built-in blaze of fury for concealers of public information,” whose speeches brought FOI to the attention of many public officials for the first time.

Known for his take-no-prisoners style, Newton displayed a “passionate and intense desire to run over everything and everyone who stood in the way of a free press,” according to later SPJ FOI chairman Clark Mollenhoff. Newton is credited with helping Rep. John Moss draft language for the original FOI bill.

Red Newton died in 1977.

Charter member of the Hall of Fame.