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James Walker Michaels
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Birth: Jun. 17, 1921
Death: Oct. 2, 2007

By Colleen Long, Associated Press | October 6, 2007

NEW YORK - James W. Michaels, who transformed business journalism as the editor of Forbes magazine for nearly four decades, has died at age 86.

Mr. Michaels died Tuesday of pneumonia, the magazine said.

He joined Forbes in 1954 as a reporter covering mutual funds and was promoted to editor in 1961, steering the magazine into its trademark blunt, opinionated style.

"Without exaggeration, Michaels was the foremost editor of our era," the magazine said Wednesday on its website.

It described Mr. Michaels as a wonderful teacher and deft editor who "turned what was then a second-rate publication into not only the leader of the business category but also one of the best magazines both here and around the world."

Allan Sloan, a senior editor at large at Fortune magazine who worked under Mr. Michaels for years at Forbes, said that unlike many of his competitors, Mr. Michaels didn't lionize corporate chieftains. He said Mr. Michaels focused on small investors' interests, "throwing rocks and being irreverent."

"Working for Jim was more than occasionally maddening, but he was the greatest editor I've ever seen or ever expect to see," Sloan said in a column.

Business executives, often skewered in the pages of Forbes, may not have been too pleased with the coverage, but readers liked the product. The monthly magazine's circulation grew from 130,000 when Mr. Michaels joined to 785,000 when he stepped down as editor in 1999.

After Mr. Michaels left the post, he was editor emeritus and oversaw efforts to move Forbes content to television and the Web until his death.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, he admitted it was a strange job for someone removed from popular culture.

"I think for a guy who never watches television, that to develop television is a hell of a challenge," he told the newspaper.

Mr. Michaels was named one of the 10 outstanding business journalists of the 20th century and earned a Loeb Award in 1972 for lifetime services to financial and business reporting and a Loeb Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994.

Norman Pearlstine, who worked at Forbes before becoming the managing editor of The Wall Street Journal and who later held the top editorial post at Time Inc., called Mr. Michaels "the smartest editor I've ever worked for," according to the magazine.

Mr. Michaels was born in Buffalo in 1921, attended Culver Military Academy in Indiana, and graduated from Harvard College with a degree in economics.

He leaves his wife, Jean Briggs; two sons; a daughter; six grandchildren; a brother; and a sister.

A memorial service was set for Monday in Marble Collegiate Church.

Copyright 2007 Globe Newspaper Company. 
 
Burial:
Unknown
 
Created by: Andre Dominick
Record added: Oct 06, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 21994329
James Walker Michaels
Added by: William Taber
 
James Walker Michaels
Added by: Anonymous
 
 
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CMA '39. 2008 inductee into the Culver Arts & Letters Hall of Fame.
- William Taber
 Added: Feb. 8, 2009

- Priscilla Gaskins
 Added: Oct. 6, 2007
 
 
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