Harold W. Andersen, 92, the former publisher of Nebraska's largest daily newspaper and first American to be president of the International Federation of Newspaper Publishers, died Thursday, Dec. 17, at the Nebraska Medical Center of natural causes.
"He loved being a journalist," his wife, Marian, said. "That's what drove him."
Mr. Andersen started his career as a reporter in 1945, and was publisher and chief executive of the Omaha World-Herald from 1966 until 1989. He also served high-profile roles for groups representing newspapers around the country and the world, including the American Newspaper Publishers Association and the World Press Freedom Committee. He also served on the Associated Press Board of Directors from 1980 to 1986.
"As I look back over those 611/2 years of affiliation with the World-Herald, I recall gratefully the opportunity that my World-Herald position gave me to serve the cause of press freedom nationally and internationally," Mr. Andersen wrote in his final printed column in the World-Herald on Sept. 30, 2007.
Mr. Andersen and the World-Herald helped fund a legal challenge that resulted in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision for journalists in 1976, preventing a Nebraska district judge from imposing a gag order on journalists covering a preliminary hearing in a murder trial.
The district judge had said that pretrial publicity was "destroying our legal system," prompting Mr. Andersen to say the judge had "flipped his lid."
"The area of the legal system that can be affected by pretrial publicity is very narrow," Mr. Andersen said.
Mr. Andersen retired as publisher in 1989, but continued as a contributing editor, and his columns appeared in the newspaper until 2007. He continued writing columns online at HaroldAndersen.com.