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William James Eaton

William Eaton was inducted into the Medill Hall of Achievement 2014.

Eaton was a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. His stories led to the rejection of one of President Richard Nixon’s Supreme Court nominees. He won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting in 1970 and landed on Nixon’s enemies list. He rose from covering Chicago crime to leading news bureaus in Washington, D.C., New Delhi and Moscow.

Before heading to Moscow in 1984, Eaton learned Russian so he could talk with ordinary citizens about the “perestroika” reform process led by Mikhail Gorbachev. Colleagues remember him chatting with Russians while they waited in line for their vodka allotments. One colleague recalled never seeing Eaton read the paper while in the office. He was too busy writing or working sources on the phone.

Eaton was active in the journalism community, serving as president of the Washington Press Club and as chairman of the Standing Committee of Correspondents. He was also a leader of the Reporters Committee for a Free Press. Along with fellow Medill alumnus Frank Cormier, Eaton wrote a biography of labor leader Walter Reuther. He finished his career as curator of the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship in Journalism, which brought foreign reporters, editors and media relations officials to study journalism in the U.S.

Eaton died in 2005.