02:19 - Source: CNN AP
Legendary journalist Ben Bradlee dies

Story highlights

Watergate reporters Woodward and Bernstein: "We loved him deeply"

Newspaper's former publisher: Bradlee was "the best"

His death is called the end of an era for newspapers and journalism

Washington CNN  — 

The death of Ben Bradlee, the iconic editor of The Washington Post who oversaw the paper’s coverage of the Watergate scandal and the Pentagon Papers, saddened the industry he influenced Tuesday night.

“Ben was a true friend and genius leader in journalism. He forever altered our business,” the two reporters who broke the newspaper’s Watergate stories, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, said in a statement.

“His one unbending principle was the quest for the truth and the necessity of that pursuit. He had the courage of an army,” the two said. “Ben had an intuitive understanding of the history of our profession, its formative impact on him and all of us. But he was utterly liberated from that. He was an original who charted his own course. We loved him deeply, and he will never be forgotten or replaced in our lives.”

Donald Graham, the newspaper’s former publisher, called Bradlee “the best,” and said “his drive to make the paper better still breathes in every corner of today’s Post newsroom.”

Though Bradlee left the newspaper more than 20 years ago, reporters who were hired by him remembered their interactions.

Others recalled the words of Bradlee’s colleagues, like former Post publisher Katherine Graham and Woodward and Bernstein. They called his death the end of an era for newspapers and journalism.

Opinion: What Ben Bradlee stood for

Today’s top political reporters pointed to Bradlee’s influence.

Even public relations professionals, like House Speaker John Boehner’s spokesman, said Bradlee was a major figure in their career paths.

C-SPAN and other reporters noted that President Barack Obama presented Bradlee with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

“Ben Bradlee has made an indelible mark on history and on our profession,” said current Post editor Martin Baron. “His spirit has been an inspiration to generations of journalists, demonstrating what our profession can achieve when it is led with courage and an unwavering commitment to truth. As we mourn his passing, we remain guided by the high standards he set in building one of the world’s greatest newsrooms.”