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Joel Whitaker was an experienced prize-winning newsman when he acquired “Frank Kane’s Weekly Letter.” He had been editor of the world’s oldest high school daily and editor in chief of the Indiana Daily Student. After graduating from Indiana University, he went to work at the St. Petersburg Times as a reporter, and later as an editor responsible for national news coverage.
In 1968, the same year Frank Kane died, he moved to New York as an editor at The Wall Street Journal, where he wrote the Page One news summary. In 1973, he was hired as business news editor at the Philadelphia Bulletin, then the nation’s second-largest newspaper with a circulation exceeding 625,000. While in Philadelphia, Whitaker graduated from Temple University School of Law. After taking his bar exam, he joined the staff of Institutional Investor as managing editor of Bank Letter.
He bought “Frank Kane’s Weekly Letter” in 1982, and has been writing it ever since. Over the past quarter century, he has broken a number of important stories. He beat all other reporters, including those at The Wall Street Journal, with the news the federal government would raise the federal excise tax on beer, wine and distilled spirits. He warned of the impact Mothers Against Drunk Driving would have on the alcohol beverage industry.
At a time when many industry leaders believed the alcohol beverage business was threatened with death, Whitaker accurately predicted the “French Paradox” would change the image of beer, wine and spirits to products which, when consumed in moderation, actually promote human health. And he was the first reporter to detail a pharmaceutical breakthrough – the development of a drug that has the potential for ending alcohol abuse, a drug that reduces the craving for alcohol experienced by alcoholics.
His reporting has been honored by the University of Missouri, New Jersey Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and the Newsletter Publishers Association (now the Specialized Information Publishers Association.)
He was Council President in Fanwood, NJ, a director and treasurer of the Newsletter Publishers Association and the Newsletter & Electronic Publishers Foundation. He’s a member of the National Press Club, whee he was Secretary for three years, and the Society of Professional Journalists.
Under Whitaker, Frank Kane’s Weekly Letter was renamed “Kane’s Beverage Week.” In 2005, in response to requests for daily news updates, Whitaker launched “Beverage News Daily.” Today, top beverage executives have a summary of the most important news affecting the industry -- including regulatory, financial, social policy and marketing developments -- on their desks by 8:30 a.m. nearly every business day.