Jonathan P. Hicks, Former Reporter for The New York Times, Dies at 58

November 17, 2014

By DANIEL E. SLOTNIK

November 5, 2014

Jonathan P. Hicks, who covered big business and all levels of New York politics, including the campaigns of three New York City mayors, over 24 years as a reporter for The New York Times, died on Monday at his home in Brooklyn. He was 58.

The cause was pancreatic cancer, his wife, Christy DeBoe Hicks, said.

After leaving The Times in 2009, Mr. Hicks was a research fellow at a public policy institute, a columnist for The New York Amsterdam News and a co-founder of a scholarship for aspiring Liberian journalists.

Mr. Hicks, whose father, John H. Hicks, was the first black reporter at The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, joined The Times in 1985, assigned to the business news staff after stints at The Plain Dealer of Cleveland and The Arizona Daily Star. One of his first front-page articles, about black professionals leaving stable corporate jobs, ran on Nov. 29 that year.

He went on to cover the tire and steel industries as well as a bitter five-month strike by 12,600 employees of Caterpillar Inc., the world’s largest manufacturer of construction equipment. He moved to the metropolitan desk in 1992 to report on Mayor David N. Dinkins’s re-election campaign, an ultimately unsuccessful rematch against Rudolph W. Giuliani, a former United States attorney, writing front-page articles about each candidate’s attempts to woo black voters. Mr. Hicks later covered Mayor Giuliani’s crusade against crime and his re-election campaign.

He later covered City Council and congressional races, outlining how demographic shifts and ethnic rifts had changed the political landscape, and reported on Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2000 senatorial campaign in New York and the political life of Michael R. Bloomberg, including his polarizing but successful bid for a third term as mayor of New York.

After leaving The Times, Mr. Hicks became a senior fellow at the DuBois Bunche Center for Public Policy at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, a part of the City University. He began writing a weekly column for The New York Amsterdam News and in 2011 became a senior correspondent for BET.com, Black Entertainment Television’s website.

Jonathan Pruitt Hicks was born in St. Louis on Dec. 4, 1955, to John and Minnie Hicks.

After his newspaper career, his father worked for the United States Information Agency.

The family lived in Berlin and Liberia before moving to Washington.

The younger Mr. Hicks attended the University of Missouri and the Maynard Institute’s Summer Program for Minority Journalists.

In 2010 he and his wife created the J. P. Hicks Family Mass Communication Scholarship, which helps finance studies at the University of Liberia for aspiring Liberian journalists.

Besides his wife, he is survived by his parents; a daughter, Lindsay; a sister, Louise Hicks Wilson; and two brothers, Geoffrey and Michael.

Mr. Hicks’s interests extended beyond journalism. He knew the film director Reginald Hudlin, who got him minor parts as a sportscaster in “The Great White Hype” (1996) and as Eartha Kitt’s butler in “Boomerang” (1992).

Originally published by The New York Times