Archives for November 2012


On Writing: And Coming Up With the Lead—Fast

By Mike Feinsilber

Walter Mears, happily in retirement in North Carolina, likes to say he knows what the first words of his obituary will be: “Pulitzer Prize winner Walter R. Mears…”

Mears won for his coverage for the Associated Press of the 1976 campaign for the presidency. But earlier than that he was given a pre-death epitaph that’s also sure to appear in his obit: “What’s the lead, Walter?”

Mears, who helped cover 11 presidential campaigns for the AP, may have been the fastest writer in the business. So fast that an evaluating editor wrote a memo to his boss: “Mears writes faster than most people think, and maybe faster than he thinks.”