Mr. Peters, a tough mentor, launched the careers of dozens of young reporters and editors who took low wages to learn serious advocacy journalism. Many went on to become famous authors and journalists, and assumed prominent positions at The Times, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, national magazines and broadcasters, and online journalistic Valhallas like Politico and Slate.
The alumni included James Fallows, a correspondent for The Atlantic; Nicholas Lemann, the former dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism; Jonathan Alter, an author and former Newsweek editor; Suzannah Lessard, a writer for The New Yorker; Taylor Branch, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian; David Ignatius, a Washington Post columnist; James Bennet, the former editor of The Times’s editorial page, and Katherine Boo, a Pulitzer-winning investigative journalist.
Charles Given Peters Jr. was born in Charleston, W.Va., on Dec. 22, 1926, the only child of Charles Sr. and Esther Teague Peters. His father was a prominent trial lawyer and Democrat in state politics. Young Charles had a rebellious streak and at 13 was sent to the Kentucky Military Institute, near Louisville. Bullied, he quit after a year and went home.
At Charleston High School, he thrived with straight A’s and participated in student council and theatrical activities. After graduating in 1944, he joined the Army, but a serious training injury left him hospitalized until after World War II ended.