Walter Brooks - A Man Who Saw the Future

Over 65-year career in journalism and media...
Walter Rollin Brooks, Jr. (1930-2018)

Walter Brooks, founder of Cape Cod Today, died last night.  He was 87 years old.

In 1997 Walter established Cape Cod Today as one of the nation’s first on-line only, hyperlocal newspapers.  For the next nineteen years, Walter started every morning working on CCToday, until he sold his media assets to CTM Media in early 2016. 

Later that year Walter helped arrange CTM’s donation of the news site to the Masonic Angel Foundation through CTM’s IDW Media Charitable Foundation, Inc.  Joining us as volunteer Managing Editor, Walter worked alongside us until literally the day he died.  One could not ask for a finer, more caring mentor than Walter Brooks.

When Walter founded CCToday most in the print newspaper industry ignored the potential of online local news.  While Walter was ignored by some of his contemporaries, his remarks about print news and “the mating sounds of dinosaurs” proved all too prescient.  Walter saw the demise of old-school print newspapers decades before his contemporaries paid attention.

Positive influence on Cape Cod’s schools

Walter’s Cape Cod Today work may be best remembered for his influence on Cape Cod’s schools.  Walter saw the developing “school competition culture” years before others.  He celebrated school choice, charter choice and technical schools as bringing new options to Cape Cod’s children. 

At the same time, Walter’s articles about trends in local education and the occasional expose piece encouraged the Cape’s school districts to become some of the most transparent in the nation.

When Walter returned to Cape Cod Today after the 2016 transitions, he provided indispensable mentoring to our new team of volunteer editors and reporters.  Walter’s guidance and hard work helped us to nearly triple our readership in less than two years.

On a personal note, your publisher was honored to enjoy a 30 plus year friendship with Walter Brooks.  We did our early explorations of desktop publishing side by side.  Later I had the privilege to partner with Walter on many content pieces and investigative reports published on Cape Cod Today. 

Even as his health began to decline, we continued to speak every day. 

The last time I visited Walter, just a few days before his passing, he wanted to know the daily readership numbers and what stories we had in process.

A career of over 65 years

Walter Brooks’ career in journalism spanned over 65 years.  In that time, Walter held nearly every position there was to hold in newspapering including, retail advertising manager, managing editor, promotion/marketing director, art director, photographer, and publisher.

Among Walter’s newspaper ports of call were The Village Voice, New York Post, Greenwich CT Time, Naugatuck CT Daily News, Amherst MA Journal-Record, Enfield CT PressThe Cape Codder and MPG Communications.

Walter’s columns and travel articles have appeared in The Boston Globe, Providence Journal, Baltimore Sun, MPG Newspaper Group, Editor & Publisher magazine and many others.

Walter was born in 1930 in Waterbury, Connecticut to Walter Rollin Brooks, Sr. and mother Evelyn Mae (Clark) Brooks. He was an only child.

He was educated at the Taft School, Culver Military Academy and University of Connecticut and was a frequent lecturer on newspaper design and promotion and niche publications.

In 1960 Walter and his bride, Patricia, moved to Harwich and never left.  They raised their two sons, Todd and Jay, here. Then they enjoyed watching their grandchildren, Will and Marina, thrive here as well.

In 1988, Walter and Pat founded the Best Read Guide.  This tourism publication led to a network of franchised editions.  In 2010, Walter wrote of Best Read Guide: “In the northeast of the U.S. Best Read Guide literally dominates tourism with editions in fifteen key family vacation areas like Martha's Vineyard, Cape Cod and Newport. These editions are read each year by a majority of Americans living east of the Mississippi. There are over a dozen editions in the southeast including markets like Orlando, Hilton Head, Savannah, Jacksonville, Tampa, Charleston, Augusta, St. Simon's Island, Clearwater, Kentucky, Smoky Mountains, St. Petersburg, and Daytona Beach. The American Midwest is covered with a half dozen in the Great Lakes areas plus Branson and Nashville. The latest editions include ones in Palm Springs, Vail, Aspen, Las Vegas, Anchorage and Juneau Alaska and London, England.”

Best Read Guide moved online in 1996 with capecodtravel.com which received over ten million hits a month.  Walter later started BRG Distribution Company along with weddings and kids’ tourism sites that were included in the portfolio sold to CTM Media upon his retirement.

A celebration of Walter's life will be held after Labor Day and will be published on Cape Cod Today when scheduled.

 


CapeCodToday.com welcomes thoughtful comments and the varied opinions of our readers. We are in no way obligated to post or allow comments that our moderators deem inappropriate. We reserve the right to delete comments we perceive as profane, vulgar, threatening, offensive, racially-biased, homophobic, slanderous, hateful or just plain rude. Commenters may not attack or insult other commenters, readers or writers. Commenters who persist in posting inappropriate comments will be banned from commenting on CapeCodToday.com.