February 1, 2004

    James “Scotty” Reston, who won two Pulitzer Prizes for The New York Times over the course of his 50-year employment there, died on Wednesday at his home in Washington, D.C. He was 86.

    The cause was cancer after an extended illness, said his son, Thomas Reston.

    A columnist and Washington bureau chief, Reston covered affairs both nationwide and worldwide for approximately 50 years, and in 1970, was involved in the formation of the first Op-Ed page in the nation.

    Reston was chief of the Times’ Washington bureau from 1953 to 1974, and after working for a short time as the New York office’s executive editor, worked as a columnist until his retirement in 1989. R. W. Apple, Washington bureau chief for the Times, described Reston as “the greatest journalist of his generation. And he recruited and trained two more generations of journalists at the Times and elsewhere.”

    He earned his first Pulitzer Prize after acquiring the Allies’ secret proposals at the 1944 Dumbarton Oaks Conference, which was to discuss the creation of the United Nations. The second Pulitzer Prize came 12 years later for his coverage of the 1956 presidential campaign.

    Born in Clydebank, Scotland, James Reston was 11 years old when he and his parents came to the United States. He began his broadsheet career in 1932 as a Springfield (Ohio) Daily News reporter, and later worked as a sports writer for The Associated Press in New York and London before his employment at The New York Times in 1938.

    He relocated to Washington in 1941, where he would later supersede Arthur Krock as bureau chief. Reston is also noted for having hired a number of people who would turn out to become prominent names in the journalism field, including Russell Baker, Allen Drury, Anthony Lewis and Tom Wicker. Washington Post Publisher Donald Graham said about Reston, “He broke many of the biggest stories of his time, and hired many of the best reporters.”

    Reston is survived by his son, Thomas Reston. Services are pending.

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