Veteran industry journalist John M. Higgins died Monday night of a heart attack at a hospital in New Jersey.
Higgins, business editor of Broadcasting & Cable, was 45.
Higgins covered the television business for years, joining B&C in 1997 after working at Multichannel News since mid-1989. He was popular among top industry executives, asked challenging questions at press conferences and was well known for scooping rival reporters.
He was passionate about punk-rock music and about the television business, and was Internet-savvy way ahead of the curve, creating MCN’sfirst Web site in the mid-1990s.
B&C editor in chief Max Robins said one of the attractions of joining B&C was Higgins’ reputation. His stories and scoops often bested not only the trade competition but major papers such as The New York Times and TheWall Street Journal.
"John Higgins was the heart and soul" of B&C, Robins added. “It was a privilege working with him.”
“John was a journalist’s journalist,” Variety Group president and publisher Charlie Koones said. “He was as good a reporter as I’ve known, and he was as smart as he was aggressive. He sold a tough-guy exterior, but anyone who knew him at all knew that he had an absolute heart of gold. He cared deeply about what he did and cared even more about the folks he worked with. There are literally countless Higgins exclusives in the B&C archives. He greatly improved his organization.”
Publisher Larry Oliver reflected on Higgins as someone who was certainly memorable.
“When you first met John, you felt like you knew him all your life. His humorous way of looking at the corporate world always put things in perspective. I think everyone who knew John had a favorite ‘Higgins’ story,” Oliver said.
“I'll miss seeing him around the office providing his own unique perspective on the world of television,” he added.
Joe Boyle, former reporter and editor of MCN, who hired Higgins as financial editor for the magazine in 1989, characterized Higgins as a classic newspaper reporter.
“Even though he had no experience in cable, I knew he was perfect for the job within the first five minutes of the interview,” said Boyle, who is currently a public-relations consultant. “He added a dimension to our news and finance coverage that had not existed beforehand and brought a level of intensity and curiosity that was unmatched by anyone who makes his living doing business reporting. He was a friend, and I will miss him."
National Cable & Telecommunications Association CEO Kyle McSlarrow said, “As first among equals in business journalism, John made invaluable contributions to the state of our industry through his insightful accounts of business developments and breaking news, as well as his passion for enterprise reporting. More important, as tough as John was, he was fair, and he wrote with great credibility and style. Our industry has suffered a great loss, but John's legacy of integrity will inspire others and live on.”
Higgins is survived by his wife, Deborah Marrone. Funeral arrangements will be announced shortly.