SAN JOSE, Calif.--Jack Robertson, an award-winning journalist who covered the electronics industry for some five decades, died on Tuesday (Oct. 19) in Arlington, Va. He was 78.
Robertson died at the Northern Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington after suffering a sudden stroke on Sunday, according to his wife, Gretchen Robertson.
An avid traveler who was involved in civic and church activities, Robertson covered the pioneering days of the military electronics, semiconductors and other industries for Electronic News starting in the 1960s. Later, at EBN, he was perhaps best known for flying from Hong Kong, where he was on vacation, to Taiwan to cover a deadly earthquake on the island on Sept. 21, 1999. Robertson's coverage helped EBN win the prestigious Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award in 1999.
Colleagues remembered a hard-nosed reporter, who scribbled notes on wads of folded, yellowish newsprint paper. Richard Wallace, who worked with Robertson during the heyday of Electronic News, remembers him as one of the greatest online reporters who ever carried a notebook.
‘’Of an age [Jack was then in his 60s] and in a time when most print reporters were happy to phase out of daily journalism, Jack got his second wind. Jack was a frequent visitor to Japan and Korea during the heyday of the semiconductor industry in the 90s. A master reporter in print, Jack learned a few tricks of his own in the online world,’’ said Wallace, who also worked with Robertson when he was the editor-in-chief of EE Times.
Jack Robertson with his grand children in a recent photo.
‘’Jack was a consummate ‘global’ reporter. Nobody commanded so much respect as Jack, when he showed up at companies,’’ said Junko Yoshida, current editor-in-chief for EE Times. ‘’In fact, Jack wasn’t even based in Japan, but so many Japanese semiconductor companies in their heyday talked of Jack as their best chronicler.’’
‘’Jack was one of my longest and toughest competitors,’’ added Robert Henkel, who wrote for a number of publications, including BusinessWeek, Electronics, and The Wall Street Journal. ‘’As far as I am concerned, Jack was one of the best reporters ever covering the electronics industry. And we shared one opponent, a company that tried to have both of us fired for stories we broke: Texas Instruments.’’