The great reporter and columnist Tom Wicker of The New York Times, died on Friday at the age of 85. In a long and distinguished career, he stood out for his clear thinking, probity, and ethical courage. The defining moment of his career was his performance covering the assassination of John F. Kennedy, which was described beautifully by Gay Talese in The Kingdom and The Power, his amazing book about The New York Times. On the scene in Dallas, Wicker “scribbled his observations and facts across the back of a mimeographed itinerary of Kennedy’s two-day tour of Texas,” wrote Talese. “It was a remarkable achievement in reporting and writing, in collecting facts out of confusion, in reconstructing the most deranged day in his life, the despair and bitterness and disbelief, and then getting on a telephone to New York and dictating the story in a voice that only rarely cracked with emotion.” To read Wicker’s report, click here. Talk about grace under pressure.

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Jamie Malanowski is a writer and editor. He has been an editor at Time, Esquire and most recently Playboy, where he was Managing Editor.