Elizabeth Whitney, who became the first female business editor of a major U.S. paper in 1979 when she became the business editor of the St. Petersburg Times, died Tuesday at the age of 91.
Jeff Harrington of the Tampa Bay Times writes, “In 1979, she became Times business editor, overseeing the growth of business coverage from a few pages inside the paper to a standalone Sunday section and a Monday business magazine that debuted in 1983. She also wrote a much-admired Sunday business column that was notable for its pointed commentary couched in graceful writing.
“‘She was a remarkable woman in what she did at the Times,” said Christine Paul, a former advertising account executive at the paper who went to high school with Whitney’s son, Ken. ‘She was a real groundbreaker in that field (of business reporting).”
“But Whitney, in recalling her pioneering days decades later, wrote that not all welcomed her as a manager — such as one reader who called to complain about an error: ‘You mean you have a woman business editor?’ he snorted. ‘No wonder it’s all messed up.’
“The daughter of a developer, Whitney cultivated an interest in business, especially real estate, early on. She was among the first business columnists in the nation to forecast the collapse of the savings and loan industry as it recklessly branched out from its traditional model of making home loans to investing in everything from golf carts to hotels.”
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