Brenda Michelle Box Johnson dies; was NPR newscast editor

By Dru Sefton

NPR Newscast Editor Brenda Michelle Box Johnson died Thursday following a four-year battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 58.

A statement from NPR said that since her arrival in 2003, Box had “shaped the sound” of NPR newscasts.

“Brenda had an exacting eye and a natural, comfortable way in her dealings with reporters and correspondents, distinguishing her as the type of consummate editor that most organizations can only dream of,” said Robert Garcia, NPR newscast executive producer. “Anyone who ever dealt with Brenda knows what a special and unique person she was; equal parts outspoken and hilarious, brilliant and fun and warm and self-deprecating.”

Prior to working at NPR, Johnson was a  a Capitol Hill correspondent for USA Today Broadcasting/Gannett News Service, an anchor for United Press International and the NBC/Mutual Radio networks, and a reporter for West Virginia Public Radio and WTOP in Washington, D.C.

Johnson also was active with the Wilderness Society and the National Wildlife Federation. She was a longtime member of the National Association of Black Journalists, which honored her with an NABJ Excellence Award for her series on black pioneers. Gannett News Service also honored Johnson for her radio coverage of the 20th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963.

Johnson’s family requests that contributions in her name be made to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. Funeral plans are pending.

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