Richard Henry “Dick” Fogel was a former Oakland Tribune editor who went on to co-found, in 1978, Bay City News Service, a regional wire service dedicated to local coverage of news and events throughout the greater San Francisco Bay Area.
He also worked with other prominent journalists and news organizations across the country to craft the basic principles of what would later become the landmark Freedom of Information Act.
Born April 29, 1923, in Santa Monica, Fogel was the younger of two sons of Moe Miller Fogel and Syndie Aileen Gardner Fogel. After graduating from Beverly Hills High School in 1941, he deferred his college education to enlist in the U.S. Army. Fogel saw action in Italy’s North Apennines and Po Valley campaigns, where he served as a gunner on a 155 mm “Long Tom” rifle in the 530th Field Artillery Battalion, Fifth Army. Later, he was transferred to Rome, where he became a news correspondent and sports editor for Stars and Stripes’ Mediterranean edition.
After the war, Fogel returned to Stanford and served as night editor for the Stanford Daily and was a reporting intern for the San Francisco News. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1947, Fogel served as a correspondent and staff writer for United Press International in San Francisco, Honolulu, Fresno and Salt Lake City.
Fogel joined the Oakland Tribune as a copy editor in 1948. Over the next three decades, he worked his way up through the company, being promoted to night editor, city night editor, news editor, Sunday editor, assistant managing editor, managing editor and executive editor.
In the early 1960s, he successfully challenged the Kennedy Administration’s national security policy of the “right to lie to the public” during the Christmas Island H-bomb tests. In 1969, together with California Chief Justice Donald Wright, Fogel developed the concept of courtroom closed-circuit television coverage and applied it to the Sirhan B. Sirhan trial for the assassination of U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.
In 1978, along with his wife Marcia Schwalbe Fogel, business partner Wayne Futak and associate Joann Sutro, Fogel launched Bay City News Service. For 30 years in his capacity as BCN’s owner and editor, Fogel mentored a new generation of aspiring reporters, instilling in them the journalistic ethical principles of truthfulness, accuracy, fairness and objectivity.
Throughout his career, Fogel garnered numerous awards for excellence in journalism, including the NorCal SPJ’s James Madison Freedom of Information Career Achievement Award (1989), the Public Service Award for Distinguished Reporting on the Administration of Justice from the State Bar Association of California (1975), the Contra Costa Press Club Award (1970), and the Editor and Publisher Newspaper Promotion Award (1967).
He was also an active member of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, the California Newspaper Publishers Association, the Press Club of San Francisco and the Commonwealth Club of California.
A favorite bit of Dick Fogel advice: “To get the most out of a press conference, arrive early and stay until you are the last one to leave – that’s where the stories really begin.”