By Patricia Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Albert Warren, 86, who built a group of newsletters covering the telecommunications, broadcasting and consumer electronics industries into a small, influential empire, died after a stroke Nov. 26 at his home in Washington.
Mr. Warren spent 60 years in the newsletter publishing world, starting with his first job as a reporter at Television Digest in 1945, when only eight TV stations were on the air in the United States, to his retirement last year. His family firm now publishes about 20 newsletters in addition to reference works, directories, reports and market studies.
The publications, which include Communications Daily, Consumer Electronics Daily and Satellite Week, are closely read by people in the industry and by government officials who regulate them. Warren Communication News, now owned by two of his sons, also publishes the 5,000-page Television & Cable Factbook.
Paul Warren, the company's president and executive publisher, described his father in a statement as "a true perfectionist when it came to news reporting and writing, and before computers his trademark purple pen ensnared many an errant comma. He was a journalistic craftsman of the old school, thoroughly committed to objectivity, fairness and, above all, accuracy."
He also was a businessman who didn't shy away from standing up for his rights. He co-founded the Independent Newsletter Association in 1962 in part to combat newsletter photocopying, which he once described as "possibly the largest problem in the newsletter industry." His company successfully sued at least one copyright violator over the practice.
"We've been vigorous in defending our copyright and working to protect the rights of intellectual property owners, especially small business owners," said another son, Daniel Y. Warren, the company's vice chairman and executive editor. "He felt strongly about it. . . . He was forced to focus a lot of attention on it."
But Mr. Warren thought of himself as a reporter, even when his business required him to deal with managerial and entrepreneurial issues.
"Up to the end, he preferred to write his correspondence on his ancient Noiseless typewriter," said Daniel Warren. "He dreamed of [being a reporter] since he was a boy and was driven by the principles of accuracy and brevity."
Mr. Warren sold the company to his sons in 2000 but remained chairman, editor and publisher. He edited each of the company's publications until his retirement.
Born in Warren, Ohio, to Russian immigrant parents, Mr. Warren grew up on a dairy farm near Gustavus, Ohio. He plowed fields with a horse, drew water from a well and grew up without electricity. He couldn't wait to leave the farm.
He graduated from Ohio State University's School of Journalism in 1942, then served in the Navy in a radio communications unit in the Pacific and Alaska during World War II. After the war, he moved to Washington to begin his career. In 1961, the reporter-turned-businessman bought Television Digest from Walter Annenberg's Triangle Publications.
Mr. Warren was interested early on in the cable television industry, closely chronicling its growth, and the subsequent development of satellite distribution and Internet- and telephone-related expansions.
His firm's publications have won a number of awards from journalism associations, and Mr. Warren was named to the local Society of Professional Journalists' Hall of Fame. The Specialized Information Publishers Association, successor of the association he helped found, gave him its publisher of the year award in 1985, the Broadcasters Foundation gave him its lifetime achievement award in 1982, and he received the first distinguished alumni award at Ohio State's journalism school.
In addition to his two sons, who both live in Chevy Chase, survivors include his wife of 59 years, Margaret Warren of Washington; four other children, Ellen Warren of Chicago, Claire Warren of Norwich, Conn., Thomas Warren of Detroit and Joan Warren of Oakland, Calif.; 14 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.