Richard Pyle was reporter for the ages, will be missed

The print journalism world lost a titan last week with the passing of Richard Pyle. The longtime Associated Press reporter and bureau chief died Thursday at the age of 83 of respiratory failure due to lung fibrosis and obstructive lung disease.

In a storybook career that spanned upwards of 50 years, AP reported that Pyle was there when President John F. Kennedy learned of the Cuban missile challenge and when President Richard Nixon waved good-bye to the White House, when the World Trade Center’s twin towers came down and when a Pennsylvania nuclear plant almost blew up, when the last Americans walked out of Hanoi’s war prisons and when Desert Storm drove the last Iraqis from Kuwait.

But it was his coverage of the Vietnam War, including a stint as chief of AP’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Saigon bureau, that he most often cited. She spent five years “in-country,” covering and photographing the conflict.

“Richard Pyle never lost his passion for great stories and never lost his insistence on strong, probing journalism,” AP’s executive editor, Sally Buzbee, said last week in stories detailing the death. “Years after he had retired, he buttonholed me at an event, wanting to know: ‘Were we committed to the journalism? Were we keeping AP focused on strong reporting? Were we screwing it up?’ It’s people like Pyle who are the conscience of a news organization like The Associated Press.”

It’s impossible to do justice to his career in this kind of writing. Suffice to say, Pyle was one of a kind, a true reporter and writer who never let up once he was on a story. He, and his example, will be missed.