Hodding Carter III, an award-winning journalist and commentator with a career-long "minor in public affairs," was elected president and chief executive officer of Knight Foundation in September 1997. He assumed those responsibilities and joined the Board of Trustees on Feb. 1, 1998.
He held the Knight Chair in Journalism at the University Of Maryland College Of Journalism from 1995 to 1997, focusing on public affairs reporting.
He was born in New Orleans, La., on April 7, 1935, son of Betty Werlein Carter and Hodding Carter Jr. His father was a newspaper publisher and editor in the South whose editorials on racial and religious tolerance for the family-owned Greenville (Miss.) Delta Democrat-Times won the Pulitzer Prize in 1946.
Hodding Carter III graduated summa cum laude in June 1957 with a bachelor's degree from Princeton University. That same month, he reported to duty as a lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps. He returned to Greenville in 1959, where he spent nearly 18 years as reporter-editorial writer, managing editor and editor and associate publisher of the Delta Democrat-Times. In 1961, he won the Society of Professional Journalists' national award for editorial writing. His time in Greenville was interrupted in 1965-66 for a year at Harvard University as a Nieman Fellow and for stints with two successful presidential campaigns - Lyndon Johnson's in 1964 and Jimmy Carter's in 1976. He was also a member of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and The American Newspaper Publishers Association during his Greenville years.
In January 1977, Carter became spokesman of the Department of State and Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, most notably during the Iran hostage crisis.
In the early 1990s he was a frequent chief correspondent for the PBS documentary series Frontline. In the 1980s he won four national Emmy Awards and the Edward R. Murrow Award for his public affairs television documentaries produced for the Inside Story media criticism series. He was a regular panelist (1981 to 1994) on This Week with David Brinkley, and he has also served as host, anchor, panelist, correspondent and reporter for a variety of other public affairs television shows on PBS, ABC, CBS, BBC and CNN.
He was a Washington-based opinion columnist for The Wall Street Journal for 10 years. A syndicated columnist with United Media/NEA in the early 1990s, Carter has been a frequent contributor to The New York Times, the Washington Post and many other newspapers and magazines. He is a member of the editorial board of Southern Cultures and a longtime U.S. contributor to World Paper. He has written two books, The Reagan Years and The South Strikes Back, and contributed to seven others.
Carter was president and later chairman of MainStreet, a TV production company that specialized in public affairs television, from 1985 to 1998. He served on Princeton University's board of trustees (with one year off in 1987-88) from 1983-1998. In addition to his tenured position at Maryland, he earlier served as adjunct professor at American University and Duke University's school of public policy. He was a trustee of Mary Holmes College in the 1970s and a member of the University of Maryland's College of Journalism Advisory Board from 1985 to 1995. Carter holds honorary doctoral degrees from seven colleges and universities.
He serves on the boards of the Century Foundation, the Foundation for the Mid South, the Enterprise Corporation of the Delta and Independent Sector. He is also a board member of seven Dreyfus mutual funds boards.
Prior to his appointment as president of Knight Foundation, Carter was a board member of the Japan Society, the Center for Policy Alternatives, the George C. Marshall Foundation, the Population Resource Center, the Pew Center for Civic Journalism, the Southern Regional Council and the International Center for Journalists. A founding member of the American Council of Young Political Leaders, he was its board chairman for five years. He was also a founding board member of Mississippi Action for Progress, a statewide Head Start agency serving 10,000 children, from 1966 to 1977.
Aside from his work for Presidents Carter and Johnson, Carter was a founder of the biracial Loyalist Democrats of Mississippi in the late 1960s and was a delegate to the National Democratic Party Conventions in 1968, 1972 and 1976. He was a member of the party's Rules Reform Commission from 1968 to 1972 and of its Charter Commission from 1972 to 1974.