Walter R. Mears, who for 45 years fluidly and speedily wrote the news about presidential campaigns for The Associated Press and won a Pulitzer Prize doing it, has died. He was 87.
“I could produce a story as fast as I could type,” Mears once acknowledged — and he was a fast typist. He became the AP’s Washington bureau chief and the wire service’s executive editor and vice president, but he always returned to the keyboard, and to covering politics.
Mears’ ability to find the essence of a story while it was still going on and to get it to the wire — and to newspapers and broadcasters around the world — became legend among peers.
“Walter’s impact at the AP, and in the journalism industry as a whole, is hard to overstate,” said Julie Pace, AP executive editor and senior vice president. “He was a champion for a free and fair press, a dogged reporter, an elegant chronicler of history and an inspiration to countless journalists, including myself.”
Kathleen Carroll, a former AP executive editor, said he taught generations of journalists “how to watch and listen and ask and explain.”
Mears died in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, eight days after being diagnosed with multiple forms of cancer.