Local Obituaries

PBS documentary producer, FIU journalism professor Alvin Goldstein dies at 87

PROFESSOR: Alvin Goldstein, seen here in the late 1980s at Florida International University, was a journalism teacher at the North Miami-Dade campus.
PROFESSOR: Alvin Goldstein, seen here in the late 1980s at Florida International University, was a journalism teacher at the North Miami-Dade campus. Courtesy Erika Bleiberg

Journalism seldom had an ambassador who loved the craft as much as Alvin Goldstein.

He was there for the watershed events, such as the Watergate hearings in the early 1970s. From the 1960s to the 1980s, he worked as a news and public affairs producer and writer for CBS, Minnesota Public Broadcasting, PBS and the National Public Affairs Center for Television.

He earned an Emmy nomination for producing the 1975 TV film, The Unquiet Death of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, which was drawn from his book of the same title.

The New York City-born Goldstein, who died at 87 on November 18 at his Atlanta home after a long illness, was drawn to the profession shortly after serving as a radioman for the U.S. Navy during World War II. He earned his masters in journalism from New York University and would later teach Ethics in Journalism as a graduate school professor at Florida International University in the early 1990s when he lived in Aventura.

Goldstein brought guests from the world of journalism to his FIU journalism class, like author Gail Evans, the retired executive vice president for CNN, who would become his life partner. But his delight in teaching extended to his home life with his five children from the time they were toddlers.

“He taught me and my sisters and brothers to look at life through a lens,” said his daughter Erika Bleiberg from her home in New Jersey. “He would have us hold up our hand with the pointer finger and pinky raised, making a box, which is a lens. He taught us to zoom in and pull out so we would be seeing in close-up and examining the details of life and then pulling our hand back to make the screen bigger and see the context and overview.”

The lesson stuck. Bleiberg straddled the editorial and public relations fields.

“For my father, and the legacy he passed on to me, it’s really a world view — a life view. Your purpose is to see what is going around you and report on it,” Bleiberg said.

The “flagship project” of his life, however, was his Rosenberg book and PBS film which detailed the 1953 executions of American citizens Ethel and husband Julius Rosenberg. The two were charged with conspiracy to commit espionage by passing information about the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union during World War II. The film includes interviews with FBI agents, lawyers and jurors, and the Rosenberg sons.

“He wrote it. Reported it. Produced it and he lived it,” Bleiberg said. In 1982, with Bleiberg acting as production assistant, the two updated the film, which is still available on DVD and occasionally makes the rounds at film festivals. “He knew it still had a life and has legs.”

After FIU, Goldstein became an executive life coach with the Pritikin Longevity Center in Miami.

“That seems like different things but it’s not,” Bleiberg said. “It’s about helping people see their power and to see the world they are in. The journalism part was reporting on it. Those were the two sides of the coin of my father’s world view.”

In addition to Bleiberg and Evans, Goldstein is survived by his children Lisa Cohen, Peter and Alex Goldstein, and Anna Black, 10 grandchildren and his sister Elaine Lechtreck. Services will be private in Atlanta.

Follow @HowardCohen on Twitter.

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