Journalism Loses an Icon

David Halberstam was killed Monday night in a car wreck south of San Francisco. The headline on the website for ESPN, the US sports channel, read “Famed Sports Author Halberstam Dies in Car Crash.” Sports author? For another generation of Americans, the 73-year-old Halberstam, who did write several sports books later in life, was far better known for his reporting from Vietnam for the New York Times, starting in 1963. Halberstam was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, American journalism’s highest award, when he was 30, for seemingly single-handedly taking on the American government over another futile, ill-advised war in a faraway place. More than just reporting, what Halberstam did was to set the tone for journalism during the Vietnam War, encouraging a legion of skeptical and brave reporters to follow his lead.

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