NYT Vet, Hill Founder Marty Tolchin, 1928-2022 


Longtime journalist and publisher Martin “Marty” Tolchin, died Thursday, Feb. 17, at the age of 93. Tolchin was the founding publisher of The Hill Newspaper and wrote for the New York Times for 40 years, having covered New York City’s City Hall and the U.S. Congress. He and his wife Susan wrote several books on patronage in politics.

Tolchin’s career at the New York Times garnered him the Everett McKinley Dirksen Award for Distinguished Reporting for Congress in 1982. He covered the Iran-Contra Affair and Anita Hill hearings. When Tolchin retired from the newspaper in 1994, it wasn’t for long. He founded The Hill that same year.

Tolchin was 65 when Chairman of News Communications, Inc., Jerry Finkelstein, hired him to launch The Hill in Washington, D.C. The Hill’s first newsroom was located in the Woodward Building on 15th Street NW. Tolchin’s good friend Al Eisele (who passed away in June 2021) was brought on as editor. Eisele was a spokesperson for then Vice President Walter Mondale.

Tolchin retired from The Hill in 2003 and then helped found Politico with Robert Allbritton. Jimmy Finkelstein (son of Jerry) sold The Hill to Nexstar Media Group for $130 million last year.

Longtime photographer for The Hill Pat Ryan said he was “very sad” that Tolchin is gone. He called him an “innovative guy.”

“He was also a Georgetowner,” he added. “He used to have parties at his home, he was a really nice guy, a real New York guy too.”

According to Ryan, Tolchin used to eat lunch every day at Loeb’s Deli, which was located between The Hill newspaper’s offices and the New York Times’ D.C. bureau. He also shared a humorous story from years ago.

“Bill Safire, who wrote a words column for the New York Times, joked that Marty and he became best friends because they ate lunch together every day,” Ryan said. “No one would talk to them because Safire had just left the Nixon White House and Marty was sent down from New York — everyone thought he was a spy for the paper — they forged a strong friendship.”

The Tolchin family resided at the Cloisters on 35th Street NW for many years. Tolchin spoke two years ago at a Georgetown Village virtual meeting about his life and career.

Tolchin leaves behind his partner Barbara Rosenfeld of Alexandria, his daughter Kay Rex Tolchin and a grandson. Funeral services will be 11 a.m., Wednesday, Feb. 23, at Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation in Bethesda (proof of vaccination will be required to attend in person).

According to Rosenfeld, Tolchin passed away of cancer.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation or Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance.

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