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Robert W. Greene, a pioneering investigative reporter and editor who helped Newsday twice win the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service and who left an indelible imprint on a newspaper whose reporting mission he deeply believed in, died Thursday after a long illness. He was 78.
During a 37-year career at Newsday, first as a reporter and later as an editor, Greene pushed his reporters to dig out public corruption by aggressively covering their assigned beats, no matter how seemingly insignificant. In 1975, Greene helped form an organization for like-minded professionals, Investigative Reporters and Editors, and a year later, after the murder of Don Bolles, one of the group’s founding reporters, in Phoenix, Ariz., he headed a team that wrote a series of stories about corruption in that state. The project brought Greene national attention and an enduring legacy.
To many with whom he worked, Greene was an inspiring, larger-than-life character who saw journalism as a blunt instrument of the public good. To others, he was a demanding taskmaster who wore them out with his demands to know more.