Petra Mayer, the editor of the acclaimed National Public Radio investigative project “Wired” and former senior editor at Wired magazine, died in Berkeley, California, on Tuesday. She was 46.
Ms. Mayer was a crucial player in the beginning of NPR’s investigative series, which was one of the most popular shows on the national radio network and continues to produce stories about human trafficking, science, prisons and environmental pollution.
She also served as vice president of development for NPR from 2009 to 2013, and was instrumental in a national fundraising campaign that expanded NPR’s operations, gave regional stations money to pay for news coverage and helped NPR build a national foundation.
“Our community is devastated to lose our friend, colleague and storyteller,” said David Sweeney, senior vice president of programming at NPR. “Her reputation as an investigative journalist and thoughtful reporter is based on decades of incredible work. Petra’s richly detailed stories and sharp journalistic instincts were shaped by both her and her mom’s commitments to watchdog journalism and social justice. It was a privilege to know her and work with her.”
Ms. Mayer grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, where she became interested in journalism after seeing a PBS story on a journalists’ strike in Baltimore. Her mother, Kiki Brennan, was then an associate editor at The Washington Post.
Ms. Mayer began her career at The Miami Herald, where she worked on the St. Petersburg Times series that uncovered a cover-up of the Riviera Grotto massacre in Florida in the early 1980s. She joined the Ford Foundation in Washington and joined Wired magazine as a young reporter in 1996.