Washington Post opinion section chief Fred Hiatt dies at 66

Greg Nash

Fred Hiatt, the longtime head of the opinion section at The Washington Post, died on Monday following a heart attack late last month. He was 66 years old. 

“All of us who worked with Fred know what a deep loss this is and how profoundly he will be missed,” publisher and CEO Fred Ryan said in a memo to staff breaking the news of Hiatt’s death. “Over the past two decades, Fred’s leadership made the Post’s editorial page into the most consequential in the news industry.”

Hiatt experienced sudden cardiac arrest on Nov. 24 while visiting his daughter in New York City, the newspaper reported, saying he did not regain consciousness after the incident and had been treated for heart ailments in the past.

Nearly every person currently working in the Post’s opinion department was hired by Hiatt, Ryan said, something the company’s top executive called a “testament to his ability to identify and retain top talent.”

“He was the steward of a group of lively and intelligent personalities of many diverging viewpoints held together by one common belief: They worked for one of the most brilliant, compassionate, funny, kind, and honorable men they would ever know,” Ryan added. 

A Post obituary for Hiatt chronicled his decades-long tenure at one of the nation’s leading news organizations at a time when the industry went through massive changes in business models and publication formats.

Hiatt joined the Post’s opinion section in 1996, after a decade and a half as a reporter covering regional politics and national security as well as a foreign correspondent. 

“We want to be a page that everyone in the Washington area turns to in the morning and feels they can find some conversation going on that speaks to them,” Hiatt said when he took the job leading the opinion section, the Post reported. 

“We will miss Fred’s intellect and enthusiasm, his extraordinary leadership, and his unparalleled decency,” Ryan said in his memo to staff. “Our thoughts go out to Fred’s best friend and wife, Pooh Shapiro, who has bravely navigated this tragedy, and to their three children and his granddaughter at this sad and difficult time.” 

Tags American journalism Fred Hiatt Mass media in the United States newspapers The Washington Post

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