Dear DJNF Family,
It saddens me to report that longtime DJNF board president Richard J. Levine died this week after a brief illness. Dick, who retired as board president eight months ago but remained active as a director, was a reporting intern in the very first Dow Jones News Fund class in 1960. After a storied career at The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones (see a full obituary below), he spent 15 years volunteering his service to the News Fund, an illustration of his enduring love for the organization that gave him his start as a journalist.
Linda Shockley, retired managing director of the News Fund, said, “Dick was fiercely proud of his own internship with the Newspaper Fund. I think it drove his passion for the continued vitality and success of the Fund.”
When I succeeded Linda as director in January 2021, Dick was very generous with his time and unfailingly helpful as I navigated a new role in a new company from a couple hundred miles away. Although we met weekly online and talked by phone often, it was late April before we met face to face. That in-person meeting would prove to be our first and last. But Dick left an impression that will never fade.
When Dick joined the News Fund board in 2006, the newspaper industry was bleeding ad revenue and slashing newsroom jobs. When the 2008 recession hit, paid summer internships were considered a luxury by many organizations, and DJNF suffered the consequences. Dick made it his mission to protect the signature program, and he obsessed over the numbers, checking in sometimes daily to look for any change. But he never wanted to sacrifice quality for quantity. He insisted that the Fund uphold the high standards for which DJNF interns are known and that any prospective news partners meet certain standards as well. He was excited that the number of intern requests seemed to be rebounding last year. This year, the class of summer interns will top 100 for the first time in a long time. Dick would have been so very proud. Rest well, my friend.
Richard J. Levine
Richard J. “Dick” Levine, who spent his entire career with Dow Jones as a reporter and later executive, and in retirement headed the Dow Jones News Fund, died on March 21 at a hospital near his home in Princeton, N.J. He was 80 and had been under treatment for cancer.
Dick joined the Wall Street Journal’s Washington bureau in 1966 and served as a general assignment reporter, labor editor, military correspondent, chief economic writer and Page One’s Outlook columnist. Twice nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he made reporting trips to Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. He also appeared on the television shows “Meet the Press” and “Face the Nation.”
Urban Lehner, who worked with him as a reporter in Washington, remembered Dick as one of the bureau’s fastest writers. At the time, editors sometimes required reporters to file spot-news stories one paragraph at a time, without losing the thread, and sometimes yanked whatever a reporter had typed out of the typewriter for instant editing.
After 14 years as a reporter, Dick ascended into management. Some of his reporting colleagues were stunned that he was giving up the news hunt. As Dick saw it, he was discovering new ways to present the news. In the 1980s and 1990s, he helped run Dow Jones Information Services, which included Dow Jones News/Retrieval, now known as Factiva. He joined the Dow Jones management committee in 1989. He later ran Dow Jones Newswires, where he oversaw 850 journalists in 87 bureaus around the world. He briefly served as a Dow Jones vice president responsible for news and staff development.
His son Russell once asked Dick what he did all day as an executive. “That’s easy,” Dick said. “I delegate, and then I follow up to make sure it got done.”
After retiring in 2006, he served for 15 years in a philanthropic role as president of the board of the Dow Jones News Fund, whose mission is to train young journalists. “He had a special interest in students from diverse backgrounds,” recalled Karen Miller Pensiero, managing editor of the Journal. “He wanted others to have the opportunity to love the practice of journalism as much as he did.”
Richard James Levine was born Jan. 24, 1942, and grew up in Brooklyn. His parents were educators in the New York public schools. Dick worked on the staff of the school paper at James Madison High School and graduated at 16.
At Cornell University, he studied labor relations, but his real focus was on his work at the student newspaper. After completing his bachelor’s degree at Cornell in 1962, he enrolled at Columbia University, where he earned a master’s degree in journalism. He then spent two years in the Army, where he attained the rank of first lieutenant in an intelligence unit.
In his free time, he played tennis and served on the boards of nonprofit organizations, including National Junior Tennis and Learning of Trenton, the Princeton Symphony Orchestra and the McCarter Theater for the Performing Arts.
He is survived by his wife, Neil Ann Levine, sons Jon and Russell, and five grandchildren.
The family said a visitation will be held from 10 to 11 a.m. on Monday, April 4, at Mather-Hodge Funeral Home, 40 Vandeventer Ave., Princeton, N.J. The funeral service is scheduled for 11 a.m. that day at Mather-Hodge.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggested contributions to National Junior Tennis and Learning of Trenton or the Dow Jones News Fund.