Walter G. Cowan, Longtime Editor of Old ‘States-Item’ in New Orleans, Dead at 98.

By: E&P Staff

Walter G. Cowan, who began his journalism career in 1936 as a reporter at The New Orleans Item and ended it 43 years later as editor of the afternoon paper, has died. He was 98.

As editor of The States-Item, Cowan launched Lagniappe, a Saturday entertainment and TV listings tabloid, changed the delivery time for the Saturday paper to mornings, and replaced the eight-column format with six columns, according to an obituary in The Times-Picayune by John Pope.

After working at the Item, and briefly leaving New Orleans for a public relations job, Cowan began work at the New Orleans States as a report and then city editor. The Item and States were merged in 1958 and Cowan was named managing editor six years later. He was promoted to editor in 1969 and retired in 1979. The States-Item was merged with its sibling, the Times-Picayune, in 1980 and the name dropped.

“Walter was a great editor, a mentor and a friend,” Times-Picayune Publisher Ashton Phelps Jr. said in the obit. “He had the toughest of journalistic standards and drives for journalistic excellence, but he was always a gentleman.”

“Walter Cowan nurtured generations of New Orleans journalists,” added Times-Picayune Editor Jim Amoss. “He loved the newspaper, he loved the city and, as editor, championed the telling of its stories in our pages.”

The full Times-Picayune obituary is here. here.

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