Charles Peters, Washington Monthly founder, dies at 96

Charles W. Peters, the founder and longtime editor of the Washington Monthly, a pioneering political magazine that featured the work of some of the country’s best journalists, died on Wednesday at a hospice in Silver Spring, Md. He was 96.

Peters, who edited the magazine from 1969 to 1989, was known as an independent thinker whose intellectual curiosity about politics, policy and culture earned him the respect of leading writers and illustrated his commitment to rigorous, nonpartisan exploration and debate.

He was widely credited with creating the Monthly’s mix of in-depth reporting, sharp opinion pieces and lively feature stories. He ran many of these stories under his famous banner, “A Magazine of Politics and Culture.” He wrote a column for the magazine for decades that distilled his many insights into politics and the social landscape with an acerbic wit and keen knowledge of the forces and personalities that composed Washington’s power circles.

The magazine, which Peters launched in 1969 with the support of two other journalists, John B. Bremner and Joseph C. Phillips, featured the work of writers like Carl Bernstein, Carl Rowan, Christopher Hitchens and the late government critic Gore Vidal.

Peters’ work was widely respected in journalism circles, and he was an active supporter of lecture series, panels and other events that attracted top reporters and commentators. He was also a founding member of the editorial board of the Democracy Project, an independent think tank devoted to strengthening democracy in the U.S.

Peters was born in Philadelphia in 1922 and attended Swarthmore College before beginning a career in journalism. His first job was as a police reporter in 1947 at the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin before moving to the Washington Post in 1955 and then the Washington Star in 1964. He was appointed editor of the Monthly in 1969 and ran it until his retirement in 1989.

Peters received numerous honors for his work, including the 1962 Mirabella Magazine Award for Outstanding Achievement in Editorial Feature Writing, the National Magazine Award for General Excellence, and the National Magazine Award for General Public Affairs Reporting. He was also a president of the prestigious Maurice Rosenblatt Awards.

Peters is survived by his wife of 67 years, Ann Raulston Peters; three sons; 11 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.