Jack Wardlaw

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Jack Dalton Wardlow
Born (1937-03-28)March 28, 1937
McComb, Mississippi, USA
Died January 4, 2012 (aged 74)
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Residence Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Nationality American
Alma mater

Medill School of Journalism at

Northwestern University
Occupation Journalist
Years active 1959–2002

(1) Ruby Wardlaw

(2) Mary Billing Wardlaw

Terry D. Wardlaw
Ruth Polk Bumgardner
Edward B. Polk

Jackie Wardlaw Priest

Jack Dalton Wardlaw (March 28, 1937 — January 4, 2012), was an American journalist who was a political writer and head of the capital bureau in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.


Wardlaw was born in McComb in Pike County in southwestern Mississippi. He graduated with bachelor's and master's degrees[1] from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. He was briefly the municipal government reporter at the Meridian Star in Meridian in eastern Mississippi and a police reporter for the City News Bureau in Chicago. In March 1961, he joined the staff in New Orleans of the since defunct afternoon daily, The States-Item, for which he was over time a copy editor, assistant city editor, and political and judicial reporter. Wardlaw reported on the construction of the Louisiana Superdome and the sensational trial of Clay Shaw, a New Orleans businessman who was acquitted in what Orleans Parish District Attorney Jim Garrison had alleged to have been a conspiracy behind the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Wardlaw and fellow journalist Rosemary James, a native of South Carolina, co-authored Plot or Politics, a 1967 book which takes issue with the Garrison investigation.[2][3] Wardlaw won an Associated Press award for his story on the death of David Ferrie, one of the mysterious figures of the Garrison investigation.[1]

Wardlaw was named States-Item capital bureau chief in 1979. In 1980, he assumed the same position for The Times-Picayune, a position which he held for the next twenty-two years.[2]

Wardlaw investigated all four terms of Governor Edwin W. Edwards. In the third nonconsecutive term in 1984 Edwards and his brother, Marion Edwards, were indicted on federal charges dealing with the licensure of hospitals and nursing homes. The Edwards brothers were acquitted in a second trial after a hung jury occurred in the first case.[4] Though Edwards had often cited "that lyin' Jack Wardlaw" for Wardlaw's coverage and critical columns, upon Wardlaw's death, Edwards said, "He was a gentleman. As a journalist, he was very effective and very fair. He called things like he saw them."[2] Wardlaw also covered the 1973 Louisiana Constitutional Convention and the other governors of the era, Republicans David C. Treen, Buddy Roemer, and Murphy J. Foster, Jr.[2]

Wardlaw's colleagues included well-known state journalists Iris Kelso and Bill Lynch, who in 1988 was appointed by Governor Roemer as the first ever state inspector general.[4]

Death and legacy[edit]

Wardlaw died at his home in Baton Rouge at the age of seventy-four; survived by his second wife and four children. He had been retired for nearly a decade.

Walter James "Jim" Amoss (born 1947), the editor of The Times-Picayune in 2012, described Wardlaw as having "set the standard for political reporting in Louisiana. In our smoke-filled rooms, he had perfect journalistic vision. [Our] readers were the beneficiaries of his cogent analysis and clear writing. So were the many newspeople he mentored."[2]

In 2002, Wardlaw received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the New Orleans Press Club. He was a former president of the Capital Correspondents Association, which stages the annual Gridiron Show in Baton Rouge, of which he was a cast member. Wardlaw was heavily involved in activities at the University Presbyterian Church in Baton Rouge, of which he was the "clerk of session."[2] In 2004, he was inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield,[5] a year before Bill Lynch received the honor posthumously.

A memorial service was held on January 13, 2012, at the University Presbyterian Church.[6]


  1. ^ a b c Rosemary James and Jack Wardlaw, Plot or Politics: The Garrison Case & Its Cast, p. 84 and copyright page. Pelican Publishing Company, 1967. Retrieved December 3, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Ed Anderson, "Former Times-Picayune political reporter, capital bureau chief Jack Wardlaw dies," January 6, 2012". New Orleans Times-Picayune. Retrieved December 3, 2013. 
  3. ^ O'Hara, Larry (September 24, 1967). "The Tuscaloosa News". Tuscaloosa, Florida. p. 30. Retrieved August 17, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b New Orleans Times-Picayune, February 16, 2004
  5. ^ "Hall of Fame inductees". cityofwinnfield.com. Archived from the original on December 7, 2013. Retrieved November 25, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Jack Dalton Wardlaw". Baton Rouge Morning Advocate. Retrieved December 3, 2013.