Finding His Voice: Rick Newcombe Discusses his Media Career and the ‘Electric’ Early Days of the Voice

April 5, 2019

Richard Newcombe (COL ’72) was dedicated to get into Georgetown, but he struggled to get the right grades to get accepted.

“My family took a trip to Washington D.C. when I was about 16, and I really wanted to go to Georgetown, but I had no chance,” Newcombe said in an interview with the Voice.

However, with perseverance, and by retaking his junior year, Newcombe got the grades and achieved his goal, beginning classes on the Hilltop in the fall of 1969. Richard Nixon had been inaugurated several months prior and would soon propose a new U.S. policy in Vietnam. “Vietnamization” would shift more of the responsibility to local Vietnamese forces instead of U.S. troops, but the draft still hung over the heads of young men across the country.

During high school, Newcombe was the editor of the school newspaper, and he joined The Hoya shortly after coming to campus. He wrote a few stories for the newspaper before being told by the editor at the time that there were already enough writers, and that he was not needed anymore.

“I thought to myself, woah, I got fired from a volunteer job. I couldn’t believe it,” Newcombe said.

Then one day, Newcombe was approached by Martin Yant (SFS ’71), the managing editor of the Voice, a newly created student paper on campus, who asked him to contribute to the publication.

“One day he told me, ‘Look, we’re going nuts. All we have is one liberal column after another, one liberal opinion after another. I want to have a little bit of balance in the Voice. Would you be willing to write a conservative column?’”

Newcombe agreed to write as the conservative voice of the Voice, and he soon found himself warmly welcomed by the five or six staffers writing for the paper at the time.

For Newcombe, having both sides of the the ideological spectrum in the Voice was crucial. During his time writing for the publication, he helped create a column each week where a hot-button question would be asked, and two or three of the then 24 pages would be devoted to answers from both sides of the issue, along with pictures and quotes of the students interviewed.

Newcombe was the editor-in-chief of the Voice from the spring of 1971 to the spring of 1972. He graduated that semester, completing his degree after only three years, but wishes today that he had stayed for another. Shortly after graduation, he found himself studying at the University of Chicago for a master’s degree in business administration, but he did not finish the program.

He soon found himself missing journalism, however, and in the mid-1970s he returned to his roots and became a reporter, and eventually an editor, at the United Press International. In 1984 he became president of News America Syndicate, owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

After spending some time at News America Syndicate, Newcombe left the organization and started his own, the Creators Syndicate, in 1987. As chairman and CEO of the organization, Newcombe syndicated for notable figures across the political spectrum, from Oprah Winfrey, to Dennis Prager, Hillary and Bill Clinton, Oliver North, Arianna Huffington, Henry Kissinger, Bill O’Reilly, Nancy Reagan, and Pope John Paul II. He almost reached a deal with then-real estate mogul Donald Trump.

“I’m kicking myself now, because I would have had the chance to syndicate for both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump,” Newcombe said.

Just like his time in the Voice, Newcombe wants to ensure that his organization is unbiased and hears from both sides of an issue. “We don’t want to be called either a conservative syndicate or a liberal syndicate, just like the Voice. I like to balance it out.”

Today, Newcombe still has a passion for writing, and continues to do so. Among his many hobbies are collecting pipes and weightlifting, both of which he has done since his time at Georgetown. For his business, he continues to expand Creators Syndicate, with his son Jack (COL ’04), the former captain of the Georgetown men’s crew team, being the current president and COO of the organization since 2011.

Looking back at his time at Georgetown and writing for the Voice, Newcombe stressed the importance of hearing from both sides about hot-button issues, and that only listening to one side of a story can lead to bad things down the road.

“We wanted something that went beyond just the scope of the university. However, we did not want ‘groupthink’ we did not want only one opinion. We did not want just liberals, or just conservatives. We wanted both,” Newcombe said.

“It was pretty electric, everybody wanted to read it.”

Damian Garcia
Damian Garcia is a junior in the college studying government and history and is a contributing editor and former assistant news editor for the Voice. He enjoys playing board games and spending way too much time writing bios.

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