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Kenneth MacDonald, 98; Des Moines Register Editor

August 28, 2004|From Associated Press

Kenneth MacDonald, a former editor and publisher who led the Des Moines Register at a time when it won many Pulitzer Prizes, has died. He was 98.

The newspaper reported that he died Thursday at a hospice in West Des Moines, where he had been recovering from a stroke.

MacDonald worked for the Register and its afternoon sister paper, the Des Moines Tribune, for 50 years, retiring in 1977. The Tribune ceased publication in 1982.

Under MacDonald, 12 staff members won Pulitzer Prizes. At one point in the 1970s, only the New York Times owned more Pulitzers for national reporting than the Register.

David Kruidenier, who succeeded MacDonald as publisher in 1970, said his predecessor, "more than any other single individual, was responsible for the growing recognition and prestige of the Register, to a point where it was considered one of the best papers in the U.S."

Michael Gartner, who followed MacDonald as editor, said MacDonald pursued the news even when the coverage angered some in the community.

"You don't have any business being in this field unless you expect to be in trouble about half the time," Gartner said. "An editor had better be prepared to lose most of his friends temporarily, because sooner or later you're going to irritate or aggravate anybody you know."

In 1953, MacDonald became the third editor of the Register and Tribune after serving as news editor, managing editor and executive editor. The paper became known for its strong coverage of agricultural issues.

He rose to the positions of publisher and chief operating officer of the Register and Tribune in 1960.

A native of Jefferson, Iowa, and the son of a farmer-banker, McDonald attended the University of Iowa and served in the Navy in the Pacific during World War II.

He is survived by a son. Funeral services will be private.

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