Obituary: Murray Fromson

Campaigning war correspondent who witnessed the Vietnam atrocities


Murray Fromson, renowned American war correspondent, university professor and campaigner for press freedom, with close ties to Israel, has died in Los Angeles at the age of 88. He had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for several years.

Born in the Bronx, N.Y, one of his early idols was legendary CBS correspondent Edward R Murrow. “I was enamoured of him,” Fromson recalled in a 2015 Jewish Journal interview. “I’d go to sleep with a pencil under my pillow, pretending I was a microphone.”

His family moved to Los Angeles when Murray was 11 and he celebrated his bar mitzvah at the old Sinai Temple. The start of his journalistic career was as a copyboy and stringer at the Los Angeles Times, followed by an army stint as a reporter for the Stars and Stripes. After his discharge, he joined the Associated Press, filing articles throughout the United States and Southeast Asia.

In 1960, he followed in Murray’s footsteps and became a network correspondent, first for NBC and then CBS, for whom he worked for a decade. Abroad, he covered the Vietnam War and the fall of Saigon, and at home he reported vividly on the Nixon-Kennedy presidential race and the civil rights movement in the South.

Fromson was deeply affected by the brutality he witnessed in both Vietnam and the South. As an eye witness to so much hatred and devastation, Fromson observed, “What can I say, except -- ‘When will this misery ever stop?”

Fromson himself entered the struggle for press freedom in 1969, when President Nixon vowed to subpoena journalists to force them to reveal the names of anti-war activists.

With Tony Lukas of the New York Times, Fromson established the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, which continues to this day. During a two-year stint as CBS bureau chief in Moscow in the mid-70s, Murray and his wife Dodi befriended many Soviet Jews who were barred from emigrating to Israel by the Communist government.

The Moscow experience made a strong impression on the two Fromson children, Lisa and Derek. The former, adopting the name of Aliza Ben Tal, studied at Ben Gurion University of the Negev and subsequently worked in the president’s office as assistant for international affairs.

The Fromson parents joined their daughter’s effort by sponsoring an annual Fromson Media Mission to BGU, which has brought, and continues to bring the university’s accomplishments to the attention of millions of American readers and viewers.

Fromson joined the faculty of the University of Southern California in 1982 and served as director of its communications and journalism school for five years. He founded the university’s Center for International Journalism, which brought foreign journalists, mainly from Latin America, to study on the USC campus.

In a tribute to his predecessor, Willow Bay, current Dean of the USC journalism school, told the New York Times, “Not only was Prof Fromson one of the great journalists of his time, he was also a an extraordinary teacher and leader, who built the USC international journalism program from the ground up.”

In addition to Dodi, his wife of 57 years, and their two children, Fromson is survived by two grandchildren.

Tom Tugend


Murray Fromson: born: September 1,1929. Died June 9, 2018

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