Longtime New Mexico newspaper publisher Tom Lang dies

AP News
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Posted: Dec 28, 2015 5:52 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Thompson H. Lang, who published New Mexico's largest newspaper for more than four decades, has died. He was 69.

The Albuquerque Journal won a Pulitzer Prize and created an investigative reporting position during Lang's tenure. The newspaper announced his death over the holiday weekend (http://bit.ly/1OfZc46), reporting the former publisher died early Saturday after a long illness.

Lang was remembered as a champion of open government and a vigilant opponent of public corruption. His support helped to establish the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, and he backed many civil lawsuits brought by the newspaper and other news organizations to secure public records from government agencies.

Lang — known by friends and generations of employees simply as Tom — also was a successful developer, philanthropist, musician and pilot.

Jim Dines, a Republican state lawmaker and the newspaper's former legal counsel, recalled that Lang once said newspapers under the First Amendment have a duty to report and record for the people in our free society. Lang also considered that duty a privilege.

"Together we successfully fought numerous battles to preserve the First Amendment rights and government transparency for New Mexicans," Dines said. "Tom was one of a rare breed of individuals devoted to New Mexico who was willing to stand his ground against tremendous odds."

Lang became publisher of the Journal in 1971 at age 24 after the death of his father, C.T. Lang. He served as president of the Journal Publishing Co. and the Albuquerque Publishing Co., which prints and distributes the newspaper.

Lang's brother, Bill Lang, succeeded him as publisher in 2012.

During Tom Lang's tenure, the newspaper received many awards, including a Pulitzer Prize for reporting that linked a rare blood disorder to an over-the-counter dietary supplement. The stories led to a national recall of the product.

The Journal also created an investigative reporting position in the 1970s at Lang's direction, and from that time has maintained a team of investigative reporters.

"Tom was always a strong supporter of the newsroom and had a real affection for the reporters out digging for stories," Journal Editor Kent Walz said. "He was committed to uncovering and reporting the truth, and he was a skilled participant in the editing and vetting of hard-hitting investigative stories."

Before his father's death, Tom Lang worked at the publishing company and the Journal in jobs ranging from cleaning restrooms to developing film for Journal photographers.

An Albuquerque native, Lang attended Albuquerque High School, the University of New Mexico and the University of the Americas in Mexico City.

He is survived by his daughters Brittany and Maggie and was preceded in death by his son, Tommy.

Funeral arrangements were pending.