Monday, May 07, 2018

Richard ‘Dick’ Jefferson, Award-Winning Gay Journalist, Is Dead at 63

Was very saddened to hear that my pal Dick Jefferson died over the weekend, after a brief illness. He was 63. Dick was one of the first people I met when I moved to New York and was a very good friend to me during my earliest days in the city. The Internet hadn’t supplanted real life just yet, so of course we met at a bar -- The Works on the Upper West Side -- and hit it off as fellow journalists with a shared belief in going out every night. Dick was a little sweet on me back then -- I think he was nursing a broken heart from the love of his life (Aaron) and was eager to fill the hole -- but I was only looking for drinking buddies to have some fun with, and some fun we had! Dick took me to my first Broadway show ("Rent" ... on ecstasy with hunky Dutch twins he knew in tow!), my first show at Radio City Music Hall (a triple bill of Culture Club, Howard Jones and the Human League ... on ecstasy!), my first night out dancing shirtless (1984 at the Pyramid Club) and hosted me and my first NYC boyfriend for a homemade dinner at his huge apartment on 87th and Broadway.

Dick was also the link between me and my dearest friend in New York. Jay and I used to see each other at The Works all the time -- he was a local, I commuted from Chelsea for the $1 frozen margaritas -- but were always kind of aloof with one another, in that gay-bar kind of way. One night Dick had invited me to a party at his apartment and as I was heading there after having a drink at the bar, I grabbed Jay by the shoulder and said, "Look, do you wanna be best friends or not?" Jay then accompanied me to the party and the rest is best-friends history. And when my brothers visited me from D.C.,  Dick was producing the "CBS Evening News" and kindly invited me to bring them to the studio for a full tour. (John Roberts was anchoring that night and I nearly swooned when he shook my hand, despite knowing better as a hardcore “Broadcast News” fan!) Over the years we saw less of each other, but we always kept in touch. I was the first blogger he contacted when he sued CBS for discrimination in 2007 after they fired him in the wake of his (and a colleague's) harrowing gay bashing in St. Martin. And more recently, he reached out while job hunting. (He was considering transitioning into print media after his ugly breakup with the Tiffany Network.) But as always, Dick landed on his own two feet -- and I was thrilled to see he had found work at CNN last summer, where it sounds like his talent and personality were duly appreciated.

RIP, old friend. You were truly a kid at heart.

Sept. 26, 1954 - May 4, 2018

Here is the memo Javi Morgado, executive producer of “New Day,” sent out to Dick's colleagues:
It is with a heavy heart that I share news that Dick Jefferson died last night. Jim Murphy brought Dick into the CNN family last year as a freelance writer for "New Day" and "Early Start" as well as Michael Smerconish’s weekend show. 
Dick’s illustrious career in broadcast news spanned more than four decades. He got his start as a producer in local news at WWL in New Orleans and WDIV in Detroit. Dick’s award-winning career catapulted at CBS News where he held several senior management positions from 1989-2007 at the "CBS Evening News With Dan Rather," "CBS This Morning" and the network’s Special Events unit. Most recently, Dick was an executive producer at Al Jazeera America and Arise News. 
Dick’s passion for journalism began at the University of Texas at Austin. He got a master’s degree in communications management from the University of Southern California and graduated with honors from law school at the University of Detroit. 
Please keep Dick and his family in your thoughts. We will share information on a memorial service as soon those plans are arranged.

1 comment:

JesusSavesAll1 said...

Thank you for your kind comment of Dick. I also met Dick when I lived in NYC while I was studying at FIT. I met him through a a couple of friends of mine, one of them which we was dating. I did not get a chance to know him very well but he was always very kind to me when I did see him and he had a gentleness and a wonderful temperament about him. I know that he was sweet, thoughtful and generous to my friends. May he rest peacefully and the cause that he fought so hard for impact lives in a positive way moving forward. I know that he will be greatly missed.