American Newspaper Editor & Journalist, Allan M.Siegal, dies at 82

Allan Marshall Siegal was an American newspaper editor and journalist who worked at The New York Times for 45 years. In 1987, he was named the Times’ first standard editor, where he oversaw its style guide and ethical practices.

He was famously a man of integrity. He was capable of withering criticism. Siegal had a significant hand in the paper’s news report early in the Times career.

Allan Siegal, a long time serving editor at Times, dies at 82

Allan M. Siegal, a former assistant managing editor of The New York Times who left a deep imprint on the newspaper’s policies and practices as its exacting and unquestioned arbiter of language, taste, tone, and ethics for 30 years, died on Wednesday, September 21, at his home in Manhattan. He was 82 at the time.

His wife, Gretchen Leefmans, confirmed the death. She did not specify the cause but said he had dealt with heart issues for many years.

Allan Siegal’s Early Life

Siegal was born in the Bronx on May 1, 1940. His father, Irving, immigrated from Poland during his teenage years and managed a seltzer delivery company, his mother, Sylvia, was a housewife. Siegal attended Christopher Columbus High School in his home Borough, where he served as editor of the school newspaper. He was then awarded a scholarship to study journalism at New York University.

Allan Siegal’s Career

While he was still in University, Siegal joined The New York Times in 1960 as a copy boy. He eventually worked his way up to becoming a copy editor. During his 1960s, he briefly worked at ABC news in 1966 but soon returned to the Times. He also had a stint as a reporter but realized the preferred editing, and successfully lobbied to return to an editing position.

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He first worked on the foreign desk and later as the head of the news desk. Siegal was part of the team that turned the Pentagon Papers into news. In 1986, he became an assistant managing editor. Siegal was the lead editor of the newspaper’s investigation of Jayson Blair.

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Siegal serves as the in-house authority on language, style, taste, professional ethics and practical newspapering. He co-authored the New York Times’ stylebook and its ethics manual along with designing the first computer system in the newsroom. His past post at the Times was an standard editor, a position that he was the inaugural holder of from its creation in 1987. He retired in 2006.

Siegal’s Personal Life

Siegal married Gretchen Leefmans in 1977. She worked as a freelance manuscript editor at the time, and they remained until his death. Together, the couple had two children. He battled obesity for much of his life, losing a prodigious amount of eight before his daughter, Anna, was born.