By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

A North Shore reporter’s untimely death

Steve Landwehr

Talk about a bittersweet moment.

On Wednesday, the Salem News reported that longtime staff writer Steve Landwehr had died after a brief, intense battle with cancer. Today, the News informs us that the paper has won a major-investigative reporting award recognizing Landwehr’s work.

Landwehr was best-known for a Monday feature called “Lives,” extended obituaries about ordinary and extraordinary people on the North Shore. Characterized by Landwehr’s deep reporting and sensitive but never mawkish writing, the stories were, News publisher Karen Andreas is quoted as saying, “one of the most well-read columns in our paper.” This July 12 piece, on Salem High School football legend Joseph “Pep” Cornacchio, was among the last stories Landwehr wrote.

The investigative-reporting prize — the Thomas K. Brindley Award for public-service journalism — was for work performed mainly by Landwehr and News reporter Chris Cassidy on the Essex Regional Retirement Board and its former executive director, Timothy Bassett. Landwehr and Cassidy exposed corruption involving violations of the open-meeting law, questionable legal fees and cronyism, leading to Bassett’s resignation.

Landwehr was 61 years old. I didn’t know him, but I valued his work. He will be missed.

More: The Salem News’ editorial on Landwehr.

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1 Comment

  1. Ben Casselman

    I did know Steve, and the praise is well-deserved. He was a dogged reporter, a sensitive writer, and the consummate community journalist in the best sense of the term. He understood the towns he covered better than some life-long residents–not just local politics, but the characters, places and history that made those towns what they are. He was also a pillar of the newsroom–reserved, even quiet, but when he spoke, you listened. A generation of young reporters learned the business from Steve, and some of that newsroom’s other veterans. He will be greatly missed.

    Kudos, too, to the News for the Brindley Award. The News (and Karen Andreas especially) have long been dogged in their coverage of open-meeting issues. Steve and Chris’s work on this story has been remarkable, and I regret that the recognition had to be tinged with such sadness.

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