Jim Dwyer RIP: “He recalled learning the columnist trade from Murray Kempton, Pete Hamill, and Jimmy Breslin.”

From a nydailynews.com obit by Larry McShane headlined “Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist and ex-Daily Newser dead at age 63”:

Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Jim Dwyer, a columnist for three New York City newspapers across a long and acclaimed career, died Thursday.

“We are deeply saddened to let you know that Jim Dwyer, a cherished colleague who was one of the greatest New York City reporters of his generation, died this morning,” wrote New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet in a letter to the staff, noting Dwyer spent his last 19 years working for the paper in the city that he loved.

“Jim was … a wonderfully inventive writer and a relentlessly dogged street reporter. He was a crusader for those facing injustice, and a chronicler of everyday lives on the subway,” the letter read.

Dwyer passed away at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center from complications due to lung cancer, according to the Times. His last byline appeared in the paper on May 26.

The native New Yorker, a former Daily News columnist, joined the New York Times in 2001 and covered stories from 9/11 to the Iraq War and the 2004 presidential campaign before taking over its bi-weekly “About New York” column in 2007 — following in the footsteps of journalistic greats like Meyer Berger, David Gonzalez and Dan Barry.

Dwyer won his first Pulitzer for breaking news in 1992 as part of Newsday’s team coverage of a fatal 1991 Manhattan subway derailment, and a second for commentary in 1995 for his “compelling and compassionate columns about New York City.” He was also an author or co-author of seven books.

He wrote three columns a week as a columnist at The News before moving to the Times metro desk as a general assignment reporter. . . .

Dwyer, one of four sons raised in Manhattan by Irish immigrants, was co-author of “102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers,” an account of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center from the perspective of the survivors.

In the book “Actual Innocence,” he partnered with Innocence Project founders Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld on an exposé of the criminal justice system and its wrongfully-convicted victims.

Dwyer launched his career as a reporter for the Hudson Dispatch in New Jersey in 1980, moving on to the The Elizabeth Daily Journal and The Record of Hackensack, before returning to his hometown and joining Newsday as a Queens court reporter.

He quickly drew attention as the tabloid’s subway reporter, uncovering stories from the city’s sprawling mass transit system from 1986 to 1989.

He joined The News after Newsday’s metropolitan edition closed in 1995, working as a columnist for the next six years.

Dwyer was a product of city schools, graduating from the Loyola High School before earning a bachelor’s degree in general science from Fordham University in 1979 and a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University in 1980. He started writing for The Fordham Ram, the Bronx school’s student paper, and was immediately hooked.

“I couldn’t resist it,” he recalled in a recent interview with the Times. “It was a joy for me to discover how much I enjoyed writing and reporting.”

He appeared in the 2012 documentary film “Central Park Five” and was portrayed on Broadway in Nora Ephron’s “Lucky Guy,” the tale of fellow Pulitzer-winning columnist Mike McAlary.

He once recalled learning the columnist trade from the previous generation of greats, including Murray Kempton, Pete Hamill and Jimmy Breslin.

“From all those guys, and many more, I learned you have to report,” he said. “Then, maybe, you can write it.”

Also see the New York Times obit by Robert D. McFadden. From the story:

Mr. Dwyer won the 1995 Pulitzer for commentary for columns in New York Newsday, and was part of a New York Newsday team that won the 1992 Pulitzer for spot news reporting for coverage of a subway derailment in Manhattan. Colleagues called Mr. Dwyer — who worked for six metropolitan dailies and wrote or co-wrote six books — a fast, accurate and prolific writer who crusaded against injustice. . . .

A 19-year-old cub reporter, he wrote a lead paragraph that set the tone for a career: “Charlie Martinez, whoever he was, lay on the cold sidewalk in front of Dick Gidron’s used Cadillac place on Fordham Road. He had picked a fine afternoon to go into convulsions: the sky was sharp and cool, a fall day that made even Fordham Road look good.”


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