Share “AP veteran reporter Don Rothberg dies at 79”

AP veteran reporter Don Rothberg dies at 79

Associated Press Modified: September 21, 2012 at 4:48 pm •  Published: September 21, 2012

Rothberg's mastery of the special brand of journalism that is indispensable to covering Washington was obvious in his writing.

"Americans returned to their bullet-scarred Capitol less than 24 hours after a gunman fatally shot two policemen and sent a wave of fear through the national monument to freedom and democracy," he wrote in his account of a shooting rampage at Congress in July 1998.

After college and a tour of duty in the Army, he went to work in 1959 at The Daily Astorian in Astoria, Ore. Rothberg joined AP in Boston in 1961, covering politics and state government. He transferred to Washington in 1966 and was a member of the special assignment team when it won the Worth Bingham award for a series of investigative reports.

He covered Watergate from its early stages through Nixon's resignation in August 1974 and the cover-up trial. Rothberg also covered four presidential campaigns.

Rothberg demonstrated his versatility when he pitched in on AP's coverage of the stock market crash of Oct. 19, 1987 — Black Monday as it became known. And for his efforts, he shared in John Hancock Award for Excellence in Business and Financial Journalism and the Top Performance Award of the Associated Press Managing Editors association.

Although he officially retired from AP at the end of 1999, he wasn't through with news.

"Several years after his retirement, terrorists attacked Washington and New York on 9/11. Unbidden, Don showed up in the bureau and asked me simply, 'What can I do to help?'" said Sandy Johnson, AP's former Washington bureau chief.

Rothberg subsequently returned a second time to serve as news editor for national security coverage during the Iraq war, mentoring younger journalists and lending his wealth of experience to the news report.

Rothberg is survived by his wife, Lynn; their daughter, Jennifer Rothberg Tanzi; and her husband, Brian; grandsons Connor and Landon; and his sister, Charlotte Kaufman of Boston.