A World War II veteran, Robert M. White II ’33 was a nationally recognized reporter, editor and publisher; a first amendment rights activist and a pioneer in cable television who served in leadership roles for several major news agencies and associations.
A Mexico, Missouri native, White graduated from Missouri Military Academy in 1933. After graduation, he went on to earn a degree in history from Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. The university would later award him with an honorary doctorate in 1972 for his advocacy for freedom of the press.
Not long after graduation, White enlisted in the United States Army to fight in World War II. He served in the South Pacific under Gen. Robert Eichelberger and Gen. Douglas MacArthur, and was awarded a Bronze Star for his valiant service. By the time he retired, he had achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Beginning his editorial career, White worked as a carrier for the Mexico Ledger. Over the years, he advanced through the professional ranks to become reporter, co-editor, publisher and eventually president. By 1956, White also worked as a special consultant to the Chicago Sun-Times, until he eventually took a position as president and editor of the New York Herald Tribune in 1959.
When White decided to return to his hometown in Mexico in 1961, he founded See TV, the first cable television operation in central Missouri.
As an activist for first amendment rights, White was as an active member and officer of major news associations, including the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Conference of Editorial Writers, the American Society of Newspaper Editors, American Newspaper Publishers Association, the Missouri Press Association, the Washington Institute on Foreign Affairs, the Inland Daily Press Association and The World Press Freedom Committee. He also served as chairman to the American Committee of the International Press Institute and was elected to the board of directors of the Associated Press in 1971, where he chaired the board’s broadcast committee for nearly 10 years.
For his work as an editor, publisher and president for major news organizations, as well as his leadership in news associations, White accumulated an extensive resume of professional journalism awards. To name a few, he received the Society for Professional Journalists’ Distinguished Service Award for several of his editorials, won the Society for Professional Journalists’ Wells Memorial Key for distinguished service to journalism, won the Silurian Award for best New York City editorial, received the University of Missouri’s Distinguished Service to Journalism Award and was inducted into the Missouri Press Association’s Hall of Fame.
As a philanthropist, White served as a board of trustee for several nonprofit and educational institutions, including the State Historical Society of Missouri, Missouri Military Academy, the Gen. Douglas MacArthur Foundation, Stephens College, Washington and Lee University, the Missouri Arts Council and Midwest Research Institute.
MMA is proud to consider White among our noteworthy alumni.