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Ben Burns

Ben Burns (BSJ34) was a member of the inaugural class of the Medill Hall of Achievement in 1997.

Burns was a pioneer in creating and editing the first commercially successful African-American magazines in the history of black journalism - Ebony, Jet and Negro Digest. Long before the civil rights era, Burns was the only white journalist working in black media. He also trained many black writers in all technical phases of editing and the mechanics of magazine production. As the founding editor of Ebony magazine, the most successful black periodical ever, Burns' editorial lead resulted in the proliferation of national black periodicals seeking to emulate its success.

After leaving Ebony, Burns worked in public relations as vice president of Cooper, Burns & Golin from 1956 to 1962. Burns later went on to be editor-in-chief of the Chicago Daily Defender, president of Burns & Bentley public relations agency and editor of Sepia magazine. He had articles published in a variety of publications including Reader's Digest, Catholic Digest, the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times. His 35-year career is best summed up in his book "Nitty Gritty: A White Editor in Black Journalism," published in 1996.

Burns died in 2000.

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