Austin Hunter, the former editor of the News Letter, has been killed in a traffic accident in the Middle East.
Mr Hunter, who edited the paper between 2004 and 2006, died on Saturday following the crash in Bahrain in the Persian Gulf.
Since his retirement from journalism, Mr Hunter had been a successful media consultant, working for, amongst others, the Orange Order and the Royal Black.
His media work took him abroad to the Balkans and further afield.
He had recently been working with the News Letter on the serialisation of former Special Branch officer William Matchett’s book, The Secret Victory.
News Letter editor Alistair Bushe said: “I’m shocked and devastated to hear of Austin’s death.
“During Austin’s period as editor of the News Letter, it achieved its best circulation figures for eight years, his leadership skills help lead it out of a difficult period and even after he left the paper in 2006, he always maintained a close affinity for the News Letter. He was a hugely respected and well liked figure across the media industry in Northern Ireland.
“My deepest sympathy to his family at this terrible time.”
First Minister Arlene Foster tweeted on Sunday morning: “Shocked and deeply saddened to hear of the death of Austin Hunter; held in the highest regard by all who knew him. Deepest sympathy.”
Mr Hunter worked in the media and public relations industry for over 40 years. He began his career as a newspaper reporter in his native Tyrone before moving to the BBC where he was a television and radio reporter for 10 years. He later headed up the BBC’s Public Relations department.
In 2001, he became the Director of Media and Public Relations for the RUC and subsequently the PSNI. His strategy for communicating the change was recognized with a Public Relations of Ireland Award.
He left the PSNI in 2004 to become editor of the News Letter.