Editor’s Death Stuns Industry

Nov 27, 2006  •  Post A Comment

By Chuck Ross

John M. Higgins, 45, business editor of the trade publication Broadcasting & Cable, died last week after suffering a heart attack.

Mr. Higgins’ death stunned the tight-knit world of top executives in the cable TV industry, where he was best known.

“We were deeply saddened to learn of John’s passing,” Brian Roberts, chairman and CEO of Comcast, the nation’s largest MSO, said in a statement. “He was a witty, insightful reporter who pulled no punches, but was always fair. John was one of a kind, and he will be greatly missed.”

To those unfamiliar with Mr. Higgins and his work, his esteem as a journalist writing about cable TV was not unlike a Lou Dobbs or the late Louis Rukeyser in the financial world.

“John Higgins was the heart and soul of Broadcasting & Cable,” said J. Max Robins, editor in chief of B&C. “He was my colleague, my partner and my friend. A journalist’s journalist, he is truly irreplaceable. Iconoclastic, irreverent, whip-smart, John’s legacy is an inspiration to all of us.”

Mr. Higgins burst upon the cable world in 1989, when he arrived at Multichannel News.

“He had no experience in our world of cable, but it was clear to me that he’d be a good investigative reporter, and could read a balance sheet,” said Joe Boyle, who hired Mr. Higgins at Multichannel. “There was a confidence about him.”

“We used to refer to deadline as `Higgins time,”‘ said Marianne Paskowski, who ran Multichannel for most of the years that Mr. Higgins worked there and who is now a columnist for TelevisionWeek. “We’d keep pushing him to turn his stories in, but he kept them to the very last minute. He’d always tell me, `Do you want it now, or do you want it right?’ But underneath his gruff manner was a man as gentle as a lamb.”

In 1997 Mr. Higgins moved to B&C, a sibling Reed Business Information publication.

Mr. Higgins suffered a previous heart attack in March 2002. He is survived by his wife, Deborah Marrone.

A funeral mass was scheduled for this past weekend. A memorial service will be held in the coming weeks in New York City; details to be announced.

Donations in Mr. Higgins’s memory can be sent to Hoboken Homeless Shelter, 300 Bloomfield St., Hoboken, NJ 07030; or to St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church, 404 Hudson St., Hoboken, New Jersey.

To read Chuck Ross’s remembrance of Mr. Higgins, go to TVweek.com and type “Higgins” into the search box. To read Ms. Paskowski’s blog about Mr. Higgins, and the many comments it has drawn, go to Blogs.tvweek.com. The B&C Web site also contains many comments about Mr. Higgins.