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Murray Seeger, journalist, dies at 82

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Murray Seeger, a seasoned journalist who covered economics and foreign affairs, then became a spokesman and public relations official with the AFL-CIO in Washington and the International Monetary Fund, died Aug. 29 at Montgomery General Hospital in Olney. He had pneumonia.

He was 82. His death was confirmed by his son, Stephen Seeger.

In a journalism career spanning three decades, Mr. Seeger covered politics for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, then reported on organized labor for the New York Times and economic affairs for Newsweek magazine and the Los Angeles Times.

The Los Angeles Times, which hired him in 1967, sent Mr. Seeger to Moscow as bureau chief from 1972 to 1974. His dispatches focused on the Soviet economy, but he also covered the plight of Soviet Jewry and dissidents, including Andrei Sakharov. He interviewed Alexander Solzhenitsyn hours before the writer was expelled from the country in 1974.

That year, Time magazine singled out Mr. Seeger as one of the paper’s greatest assets and noted his “cross-cultural information in the style of Alistair Cooke,” the erudite and explanatory British broadcaster.

Mr. Seeger later was based in Bonn, the West German capital, and Brussels, where he received a prestigious Gerald Loeb Award for financial reporting. He was expelled from Warsaw in 1981 after covering Solidarity strikes and writing about tensions between Poland’s communist government and the Soviet Union.

Mr. Seeger joined the AFL-CIO in 1981 and helped form a television-production unit. He was heavily involved in the labor federation’s efforts to throw its political support to Walter F. Mondale, the Democratic Party’s nominee for president in 1984, who lost in a landslide to President Ronald Reagan.

In the late 1980s, Mr. Seeger was editorial consultant to the Straits Times of Singapore, then returned to Washington as assistant director of the IMF’s external relations department, where his work included press outreach and other forms of public relations. He retired in 1994.

Murray Amsdell Seeger was born in Lackawanna, N.Y., on July 1, 1929, and was raised in nearby Hamburg. To earn college spending money, he spent three summers at the Bethlehem Steel mill in Lackawanna.

He received a bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science from the University of Iowa in 1951 and soon joined the Plain Dealer, where he covered city hall and the statehouse. He won a Nieman fellowship in 1961.

After leaving the IMF, Mr. Seeger assisted Bill Kovach, then curator of the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University; was an adjunct journalism professor at Washington area colleges; and was Washington representative for the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

He wrote a book, “Discovering Russia: 200 years of American Journalism” (2005), a history of reporting from Russia by U.S. correspondents.

He was a resident of the Leisure World retirement community in Silver Spring.

His first marriage, to Greta Grossman, ended in divorce. Survivors include his wife of 51 years, Palma Barbaro Seeger of Leisure World; a son from his second marriage, Stephen Seeger of Dickerson; a sister; and two grandsons.

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