Fleming covered the civil rights movement in the South for Newsweek before coming to Los Angeles in 1965, where he was severely beaten by a mob after that year's Watts Riots. "He was one of the great 20th century reporters — in the right place at the right time," said Gene Roberts, a former top editor at the New York Times and Philadelphia Inquirer who wrote a book about how the press covered civil rights. Fleming died Saturday at home in Los Angeles. His son Charles Fleming, an editor at the LA Times, said the cause was related to respiratory ailments.
Fleming's post-Newsweek career was interesting. He was part of the experiment at Channel 2 of having print editors run the TV news operation. From Elaine Woo's obituary in the LA Times:
As the psychedelic era wound down, Fleming began to drink excessively and smoke marijuana. Newsweek removed him as bureau chief, and he quit the magazine in 1972.
His first major post-Newsweek venture was an alternative weekly newspaper named LA that he founded with the backing of Los Angeles philanthropist Max Palevsky. The publication ran aground when Fleming was duped into paying $30,000 to an impostor claiming to be the mysterious hijacker D.B. Cooper.
After treatment for depression, he found his way back to journalism as managing editor and political editor of Channel 2 News from 1978 to 1985. He later established a public relations consulting firm.