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Seymour Topping Edit Profile

educator , Publishing executive

Seymour Topping, American writer. Recipient Greenway-Winship award for contributions to international journalism, 2000, Distinguished Service award, Missouri School of Journalism, 1968, Disting Alumni award, 1993.


Topping was born in the Harlem district of New York City on December 11, 1921 and grew up in the outer boroughs of Queens and The Bronx, where he attended secondary school. He was married to photojournalist, documentary filmmaker, and author Audrey Ronning Topping (the daughter of Canadian diplomat Chester Ronning) on November 10, 1948. They had five children.


BJ, University Missouri, 1943. Doctor of Letters (honorary), Rider College, 1993. Doctor of Letters (honorary), Adelphi University, 2009.


Since 2002, he has served as the San Paolo Professor Emeritus of International Journalism at Columbia University. After graduating from the University of Missouri School of Journalism (BJ '43) and subsequent military service as an infantry officer in the Pacific during World War II, he joined the Associated Press in 1948 as a foreign correspondent in China and Southeast Asia. He joined The New York Times Company in 1959.

Over the next thirty-four years, he held positions such as chief correspondent in both Moscow and Southeast Asia, foreign editor, assistant managing editor (1969-1976), deputy managing editor (1976) and managing editor (1977-1987) of The New York Times. During his career, Topping covered historical events all over the world including the Chinese Revolution and the French Indochina War, and he reported from countries and regions including China, Vietnam, Russia, Germany, the United Kingdom, Tibet, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Kuwait, Iran, South Africa, Zimbabwe, New Zealand, Australia, Cuba, Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador. He has also served in various administrative capacities, including President of the International Advisory Board of the School of Journalism at Tsinghua University, President of Emeritus Professors In Columbia, President of the American Society of Newspaper Editors (1992-1993), and Chairman of the ASNE's Committee on International Communication.


  • Following the reorientation of his duties toward the Times Company's regional publications at the behest of Arthur Ochs Sulzberger in 1985, Topping was appointed director of editorial development for The New York Times Company in 1986. In this capacity, he "focused exclusively on improving the journalistic quality of the regional papers." He left the Times Company in 1993 to administer the Pulitzer Prizes as an ex officio member of the Pulitzer Prize Board. From 1994 until his retirement in 2002, he was also affiliated with the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism as the San Paolo Professor of International Journalism.



Special advisor to Secretary-General United Nations to Earth Summit, Rio de Janeiro, 1992. Member National Committee United States-China Rels. Board directors Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory Served with infantry Army of the United States, 1943-1946, PTO. Member Council Foreign Rels., Asia Society, American Society Newspaper Editors, International Press Institute (American committee, board directors), Century Association.


Married Audrey Elaine Ronning, November 10, 1949. Children: Susan, Karen, Lesley, Rebecca, Joanna.

Joseph Topolsky

Anna (Seidman) Topolsky

Audrey Elaine Ronning

Susan Topping

Karen Topping

Rebecca Topping

Joanna Topping

Lesley Topping