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                                                                                                                                                                                                                               NEWS SERVICES
210 Pittsboro Street, Campus Box 6210
Chapel Hill, NC  27599-6210
(919) 962-2091   FAX: (919) 962-2279


For immediate use

Nov. 21, 2003 -- No. 617

Local angles: Cary, Raleigh

McClatchy gives $40,000 to Carolina for scholarship honoring Potts, former CEO

UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication

CHAPEL HILL -- Erwin Potts, former chief executive officer of McClatchy Newspapers and a member of the N.C. Journalism Hall of Fame, has been honored with a new scholarship in his name at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

McClatchy Newspapers contributed $40,000 to the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication, where Potts earned his bachelor’s degree in 1954, to endow the Erwin Potts Scholarship. The annual $2,000 award will be given for the first time in spring 2004 for the 2004-2005 academic year.

The gift counts toward the Carolina First campaign goal of $1.8 billion. Carolina First is a multi-year, private fund-raising campaign to support Carolina’s vision of becoming the nation’s leading public university.

"I am honored personally, but more importantly, I hope the scholarship will help some young person realize his or her aspirations in the field of journalism," said Potts, of El Dorado Hills, Calif. "Having my name attached to something like that is very gratifying."

Preference for the scholarship will be given to Latino students studying newspaper journalism.

"My wife and I are spending about half our time in Mexico in retirement, and we’ve come to love and respect the Mexican people and to realize how so many of them lack educational opportunity," Potts said. "I am hoping the scholarship will benefit some working class young Latina or Latino in the Carolinas who otherwise might not go to college. That’s why we’d like it to have a Spanish accent, if that’s possible."

Dr. Richard Cole, school dean, said the new scholarship is a fitting tribute to Potts.

"He is one of the most respected people in all of U.S. journalism, and helping young Latino journalists is a splendid way to honor him," Cole said.

A Pineville native, Potts attended Mars Hill College before coming to UNC. From 1958 to 1970, he was a reporter, city editor and assistant manager at the Miami Herald. Later he was general manager of the Tallahassee Democrat, then the Charlotte Observer and The Charlotte News.

In 1975, he became president of McClatchy Newspapers, and in 1989, chief executive officer. He retired as chairman in May. He also has been on the national boards of the Newspaper Advertising Bureau and the Newspaper Association of America.

In the nearly 50 years since his graduation from Carolina, Potts has maintained a close relationship with the school. He was inducted in 1993 into the hall of fame, which is housed in the school. He has also been a member of the school’s board of visitors.

"The journalism school at UNC was one of the most powerful influences in my life," Potts said. "I will always look back fondly on my days there and do what I can to help it continue preparing students for a profession that is becoming increasingly more challenging to pursue."

The McClatchy company has 22 newspapers nationwide, including The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee, the Star Tribune of Minneapolis-St. Paul and the Anchorage Daily News. It also operates five N.C. papers: The News & Observer in Raleigh, The Smithfield Herald, The Chapel Hill News, The Cary News and the Eastern Wake News. McClatchy’s newspapers have won 12 Pulitzer Prizes, including three Pulitzer Gold Medals for Public Service, and numerous other awards.

For information about the scholarship, call (919) 962-1204.

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School contact: Zach Hoskins, (919) 966-3323,
News Services contact: L.J. Toler, (919) 962-8589,