News that investigative journalist —who broke some of the key Iran/Contra stories as a reporter for the Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980’s—died over the weekend has been met with an outpouring of sadness among readers and a wave of reflections from fellow journalists who remembered him as an uncompromising seeker of facts who remained committed to his craft until the very end.
In addition to his groundbreaking work as a foreign corresponent for major outlets, Parry—who died Saturday, according to his family, after a series of strokes caused by pancreatic cancer that had gone undetected—continued his muckraking career as an independent journalist after establishing Consortium News in 1995. As editor and publisher, Parry wrote with penetrating analysis and grit on foreign policy issues and domestic affairs while also giving platform to an array of writers and experts who challenged conventional thinking and mainstream orthodoxies.
In a widely-shared tribute posted on Consortium News on Sunday, Nat Parry remembers his father as someone boundlessly committed to journalistic integrity, but also as a reporter inspired by deep humanitarian impulses. Recounting a childhood memory of his father leaving for a trip to cover ongoing civil wars in Central America, he writes:
Later in the tribute, the younger Parry says of his father that besides a deeply- “held commitment to independent journalism, it should also be recalled that, ultimately, Bob was motivated by a concern over the future of life on Earth. As someone who grew up at the height of the Cold War, he understood the dangers of allowing tensions and hysteria to spiral out of control, especially in a world such as ours with enough nuclear weapons to wipe out all life on the planet many times over.”
While Parry remained a journalist unafraid to deconstruct narratives and expose truths in ways that powerful elites, corrupt right-wingers, and comfortable liberals often found inconvenient, his journalism was often pushed aside by a corporate-driven media system often threatened by, and unfamiliar with, such an approach.
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Among his journalistic peers, the grief was palpable as many shared their sense of loss and championed Parry’s legacy:
In his final post on Consortium—one in which he actually apologized to his readers after a stroke on Christmas Eve slowed down his writing and publishing—Parry restated his commitment to challenging accepted narratives and said that if he “could change one thing about America and Western journalism, it would be that we all repudiate ‘information warfare’ in favor of an old-fashioned repect for facts and fairness — and do whatever we can to achieve a truly informed electorate.”
Parry is survived by his wife Diane Duston, a former Associated Press newswoman; sons Sam Parry and Jeff Parry of Arlington and Nat Parry of Copenhagen, Denmark; daughter Elizabeth Parry of Alexandria, Virginia; and six grandchildren.
Editor’s Note: In lieu of flowers, Parry’s family asks anyone interested to please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Consortium for Independent Journalism (CIJ).
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