Obituary: Mike Moore, who edited the Bulletin at the dawn of the post-Cold War era

By Matt Field | November 23, 2022

Mike Moore, editor of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists throughout the 1990s, stands in front of the Doomsday Clock December 2, 1991. (Photo courtesy University of Chicago Library / Chicago Maroon)

Mike Moore, who served as editor in chief of the Bulletin as the Soviet Union dissolved and new, post-Cold-War arms control challenges began to emerge, died last month at his home in Green Valley, Arizona.

In 1991, Moore saw the hands of the Bulletin’s Doomsday Clock move to its furthest point from metaphorical midnight ever, 17 minutes, as the magazine sought to “to memorialize the death of the East-West nuclear arms race and the apparent birth of democracy in Russia.” That year’s high hopes for a new era free from nuclear crises and other dangerous geopolitical machinations proved short-lived, however, and the clock ticked steadily closer to midnight over most of Moore’s tenure from 1990 to 2000. Pointing to global conflict and the social and economic chaos that was engulfing post-Soviet Russia, Moore reminded readers in 1995, when the clock moved to 14 minutes to midnight that, ‘When the Cold War ended, nuclear weapons didn’t go to the shredder, like so many worn-out cars. They are still with us, and we must not forget that”

While still a college student, Moore started his career in journalism as a reporter and photographer for the Kansas City Star. In the 1960s, he moved to Chicago and worked for the Chicago Daily News as a crime reporter before joining the Chicago Tribune’s Sunday magazine as a features reporter. His son, David Moore, wrote that his father had a front-row seat to the history of that period. Mike Moore covered the 1968 riots at the Democratic National Convention, talked with Muhammad Ali after his house was firebombed by white nationalists, and interviewed Charlton Heston “while the man who played Moses watched the Apollo moonshot in his underwear.”

Moore was by the accounts of many who knew him, a brilliant but unassuming journalist and editor, known for motivating those that worked for him to produce strong work. Nancy Mack, who worked with Moore at the Milwaukee Journal told the Chicago Tribune, “We would come up with story ideas, and he would grill us (on them). He really stretched us. We also got to be really close friends.”

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After retiring in his 40s to raise his sons while his wife pursued a doctorate degree, Moore returned to edit Quill, the publication of the Society of Professional Journalists. After that, Moore took the head editor’s position at the Bulletin, a job he loved, David Moore wrote in the Green Valley News. “He rubbed elbows daily with certified geniuses, spoke at arms control symposiums in Russia and China and attended the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony as a guest of the King of Norway.”

Kennette Benedict, who was executive director publisher of the Bulletin from 2005-2015, said that Mike Moore, whom she came to know while working on arms control at the MacArthur Foundation, which gave grants to the nonprofit Bulletin, “was clearly among the great editors of this storied magazine.”

In an email, she wrote, “I still remember his laugh, usually ironic, about the folly of specific US policies. He brought a steady hand and new visibility to the Bulletin during his tenure, and was greatly missed when he retired.”

Moore, who was 83, moved to Green Valley, Arizona in 2014, according to the Chicago Tribune, where he continued to write columns for the Green Valley News. Moore is survived by his sons David and Michael Moore and two grandchildren.

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Keywords: Mike Moore, obituary
Topics: Analysis

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