Degree in hand from Columbia Journalism School, Roy Aarons worked briefly as a copy editor on a Connecticut newspaper before the Washington Post hired him. In the nation’s capital he rose quickly in his profession, covering major events of the 1960s and 1970s such as the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, urban riots and government scandals. His 14 years of service as an editor and a national correspondent included stints as the Post’s bureau chief in New York and Los Angeles.
The respected and meticulous editor became a consultant for the 1976 movie “All the President’s Men,” which depicted the Washington Post’s role in uncovering the Watergate scandal. He even played a bit part in the film.
In 1982 Roy followed the love of his life, Joshua Boneh, to Israel. He spent a year there freelancing for Time, where he reported on the Israel-Lebanon war, among other subjects. The next year, his former Post colleague Robert C. Maynard purchased the Oakland Tribune—becoming the first black owner of a major metro paper—and recruited Roy as his features editor. Aarons quickly became executive editor, then senior vice president for news at the Tribune.
Together, Bob and Roy built an editorial staff of remarkable diversity. In 1990, Roy led a team of Tribune staffers, who worked day and night for weeks covering the 1989 Bay Area earthquake and its after-effects, to win a Pulitzer Prize for photojournalism. That same year he conducted a national survey of gay and lesbian journalists, whose disheartening results led him to found the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association.