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By: Wayne Robins

AP Reporter Filed Stories For Nearly 45 Years

SAN ANTONIO – Political reporters won’t be able to ask, “What’s the lead, Walter?” anymore.

Walter Mears, whose AP byline has been synonymous with presidential election coverage since 1964, is getting off the campaign bus and retiring after the 2000 season.

“Walter is hanging up his pen at the end of this election cycle,” Tom Hamburger of The Wall Street Journal’s Washington bureau told a surprised audience at the Associated Press Managing Editors conference in San Antonio Friday morning. Hamburger was hosting a discussion on this year’s presidential campaign coverage. Mears, who was on the panel, received a lengthy standing ovation.

Mears has been with the AP for nearly 45 years, starting the news service’s first Vermont bureau in 1956. He won the Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the 1976 presidential campaign.

But he was immortalized in Timothy Crouse’s book, “The Boys on the Bus,” about the 1972 campaign press corps. Mears was held in such high esteem that other reporters, trying to make sense of the relentless sound and fury emanating from the candidates campaigns, would often go to Mears and ask: “What’s the lead, Walter?”

Wayne Robins ( is an associate editor covering new media for E&P.

Copright 2000, Editor & Publisher.

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