We Mourn the loss of Jean Briggs (1943–2016) a courageous Forbes editor
Jean Briggs, one of the key people who made FORBES an editorial giant in the latter part of the last century, died on May 26 at age 72 after a debilitating illness.
Jean joined us in 1972 as a reporter-researcher. Her talent as a writer and her doggedness in digging out information led to a series of rapid promotions, including stints in our Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. bureaus.
Jean also had a knack for management, which in a few years found her taking on responsibility for overseeing FORBES magazine’s reporters and administering its editorial operations. She manifested that rare talent for both nurturing and prodding people, especially critical when editorial deadlines loom. Writers are notorious procrastinators.
Our founder (and my grandfather), B.C. Forbes, deeply believed that the story of business is actually the story of the people who run businesses and that numbers are a measure of what these “head knockers” have done; numbers, done right, are a snapshot of reality. Entrepreneurship and effective management are ultimately an art, not a science.
Jean understood this, thereby eluding the trap that ensnares so many economists who, obsessed with mathematical equations, come to see people as cold, rational beings and are always carefully calculating their behavior. Jean’s time at Glamour magazine, before coming to FORBES, certainly helped her avoid that fallacy. Her stints there and then at business publisher Prentice-hall, where she edited a publication on sales management, provided the perfect “education” for understanding the free-enterprise spirit of FORBES.
Jean also epitomized another aspect of FORBES: skepticism and the ability to look beneath the surface of things. She was never one for conventional wisdom and political correctness. Three decades ago Jean was writing searing stories that were highly dubious of extreme environmentalism. For instance, she boldly attacked the