Dale Van Atta: Mormon Journalist

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Dale Van Atta Mormon Journalist

Dale B. Van Atta is a journalist, novelist, and speaker, best known for his investigative work with the Deseret News and his work with investigative columnist and friend Jack Anderson. He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Van Atta was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize five times (three times while at the Deseret News) and contributed to many international and national magazines and newspapers, including The New York Times, the Washington Post, Newsweek, Time, Harper’s, and the Washingtonian.

He was to inherit Jack Anderson’s “Washington Merry-Go-Round” column when Anderson retired. Van Atta had co-written the nationally syndicated column with Anderson for years, usually 200 of the columns each year. He announced at the end of 1991 that he would cut down to fifty columns per year and essentially leave Anderson’s staff. Van Atta later said that he knew Anderson would never really step down; “it wasn’t his nature.”[1] However, Anderson did retire in 2004 when he was too ill to continue and he died in 2005.

From 1984 to 2006, Van Atta was contributing editor at Reader’s Digest. Beginning in 1985 he has been a freelance writer, professional speaker, television documentary contributor, and talk show guest. From 2005, he has been president and author of Paragon Biographies, a company that privately contracts with individuals interested in leaving a written legacy about themselves or a loved one.

He donated ten years worth of papers (1968–1978) to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum. The documents cover an extensive range of foreign policy and national security topics and provide analyses of numerous foreign political situations that Van Atta acquired while covering those issues during his career as a journalist. He donated to the United States his copyrights in all of his unpublished writings in National Archives collections. He donated papers on Mormon dissidents to Brigham Young University in 1999.

Van Atta earned his bachelor’s degree in communications from BYU in 1975. He was the 1986 Honored Alumnus from the College of Fine Arts and Communications at BYU. He worked at the Deseret News from 1973 to 1979. He is the author of With Honor: Melvin Laird in War, Peace, and Politics; The Laird Legacy: A Biography of Melvin R. Laird; Trust Betrayed: Inside the AARP; with Jack Anderson, Stormin’ Norman: An American Hero; and with Ben Bradlee Jr., Prophet of Blood: The Untold Story of Ervil Lebaron and the Lambs of God. He collaborated with Charles D. Grant on From Helltown to Heaven . . . and All the Stops in Between: The Autobiography of Charles Grant.

He lives in Ashburn, Virginia.