Jennifer Pendleton


This is a remembrance I didn’t anticipate. I hate to write it. Other memorial essays I’ve contributed to this space were of contemporaries,  people retired, gone after a lifetime of achievements. Jennifer Pendleton, who died Jan. 26 of cancer, was only 56.

I knew her since she was a young woman of slim figure, dark hair and eyes and striking looks. We competed against one another, before working together at Advertising Age and Daily Variety.

When I left Ad Age as West Coast Bureau Chief, I recommended Jennifer as my successor. I hesitate to say it because of sounding self-important but Jennifer was my protégé. In my mind she was my discovery, sitting near me at a new conference. She was a young reporter for Ad Age and I, nearly 25 years older, was the seasoned Broadcast Advertising beat guy from Broadcasting Magazine. I thought his is a keeper.

When I was recruited by Crain Communications for the  Bureau Chief job at both Ad Age and a start-up called Electronic Media, Jennifer was going to be one of the six people working under me. She called before I arrived on the job. “Can we have lunch?” she asked. “Why?” I questioned. “We really don’t know each other.”

Her answer told me how bright and bold she was. “If I’m going to be working for you I want to know what sort of boss you’re going to be.”

After I switched back to the Variety organization (I originally was with Daily and came back after Crain for Weekly), Peter Pryor came to me. He said a Jennifer Pendleton had used me as a reference applying for a reporter’s job with Daily. “What can you tell me about her?” Peter asked.

I told him Jennifer was like the girl in school who got straight “A” s She never was late or absent, had a hair out of place, dressed sensibly, spoke correctly, conducted herself always as a well-brought-up lady. I didn’t know whether that was high praise or the kiss of death.

I once complained to an editor about a competing reporter who never kept a pledge, lied, cheated, was ruthless.

“Sounds like a great find,” the editor responded. “Let’s hire him.”

Jennifer, of course, did none of those things. I think she was a great find. I’m deeply sorry we lost her. I was correct from the start. She was a keeper, at least in my mind and memory she is.