| Margaret Richardson Dixon|
(Louisiana's most influential woman journalist
|Born|| February 27, 1908 |
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
|Died|| June 21, 1970 (aged 62) |
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
|Spouse|| J. Muncia Dixon (married 1928)|
Margaret Richardson Dixon, usually known as Maggie Dixon (February 27, 1908 – June 21, 1970), was perhaps the most influential woman journalist of 20th century Louisiana. She was the managing editor of her state's capital city newspaper, The Baton Rouge Advocate, from 1949 until her death from cancer some two decades later. She was also an active Democrat who championed prison reform, assistance to the mentally ill, and organized labor. She once addressed a Louisiana AFL-CIO convention at the behest of union president Victor Bussie, also of Baton Rouge.
Dixon was born in New Orleans to Roger W. Richardson and the former Josephine Pettit. In 1928, she obtained her bachelor's degree from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. That same year, she married J. Muncia Dixon. It is unclear if her husband is still living, presumably not.
She began her career in 1928 as a reporter for the since defunct Baton Rouge State-Times, an afternoon daily. At the time Huey Pierce Long, Jr., had been elected governor and was offering a populist ageneda.
In 1931, she moved to the morning New Orleans Times-Picayune as women's editor and general assignment reporter, a position that she held until 1937. Thereafter she spent a year as the part-time public relations assistant for the Louisiana State Library and as the pivotal Baton Rouge correspondent for the former New Orleans Item and the wire service, United Press International.
In 1938, Dixon became city editor of The Morning Advocate, a position that she retained until 1942, when she became assistant managing editor for some seven years. In 1949, she was promoted to her final position of managing editor. In her last three years at The Advocate, Kenneth L. Dixon (no relation) was the editor of the editorial page.
In 1955, Dixon headed the Associated Press Association of Louisiana and Mississippi. She was close to Governor Earl Kemp Long and often advised him on press and political strategy, according to Long's former lieutenant governor, William J. "Bill" Dodd. In 1956 and 1964, she was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. The former met in Chicago to re-nominate former Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson, as the presidential candidate, with U.S. Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee as his running-mate. In 1964, the convention met in Atlantic City, New Jersey, to nominate U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson and U.S. Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota for the presidency and vice presidency, respectively. Humphrey had Baton Rouge ties, having been a graduate student at Dixon's LSU. Dixon also served on the LSU Board of Supervisors from 1951 to 1960, on the initial appointment of Governor Long. Mrs. Dixon was a former president of the Capitol Correspondents Association. In 1965, she was secretary to the Mississippi River Parkway Commission. In 1966, she was elected to membership in the American Society of Newspaper Editors. She won the "Headliner Award" from Theta Sigma Phi, the professional journalism society, and the "Women of Achievement Award" from the Federation of Press Women. Shortly before her death, she was initiated into the Southeastern Louisiana chapter of Sigma Delta Chi, now known as the Society for Professional Journalists. She also received the "First Lady of the Year Award" from Beta Sigma Phi.
Dixon's papers from 1922 to 1969 are located at the LSU Archives. Dixon is commemorated by the Margaret Dixon Award given annually to a senior female student majoring in mass communication at LSU.
Dixon is further remembered for her work in prison reform through the Margaret Dixon Correctional Institute, which opened on April 1, 1976, in Jackson in East Feliciana Parish, Louisiana, halfway between Baton Rouge and the Mississippi state line. The prison grounds had once been part of the East Louisiana State (Mental) Hospital and were revamped to accommodate the new facility, a part of the state's attempt to decentralize inmates from the mammoth Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola in West Feliciana Parish.
In his memoirs entitled Peapatch Politics: The Earl Long Era in Louisiana Politics, Bill Dodd described Dixon as "the only reporter I knew who had Earl's confidence and could influence him to embrace any kind of reform program. She was wholly responsible for Earl's changing our state prison system from a brutal and neglected stepchild to a fairly well-operated program. . . . "
- Dixon, Margaret. Louisiana Historical Association: A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography. Retrieved on January 12, 2020.
- Margaret Dixon, Political Writer. The New York Times (June 23, 1970). Retrieved on January 12, 2020; under pay wall.
- Dixon, Kenneth L.. Louisiana Historical Association: A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography. Retrieved on January 12, 2020.
- Mark T. Carleton (1971). Politics and Punishment: The History of the Louisiana State Penal System. Louisiana State University Press. ISBN 0-8071-0940-1. Retrieved on January 12, 2020.
- William J. "Bill" Dodd, Peapatch Politics: The Earl Long Era in Louisiana Politics (Baton Rouge: Claitor's Publishers, 1991), p. 27.