Pickering died in his sleep at home in London, said News International, the umbrella company for Rupert Murdoch's London newspapers.
"The industry has lost an incomparable institution; our company has lost a guide whose wisdom was drawn upon until the last; I have lost a great mentor and a true friend, a man in whom I placed my unreserved trust for 50 years" said Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News Corp.
Pickering, who was knighted in 1977, served as editor of the Daily Express from 1957 to 1962 at the height of post-war circulation battles.
It was then that he met the young Murdoch, and later became a close confidant of the Australian when he returned to build his own media empire.
Edward Davies "Pick" Pickering was born on May 4, 1912, in Middlesbrough, England, and began work as a reporter there. Later, he worked as a journalist in Newcastle and Manchester before becoming chief sub-editor of the Daily Mail at the age of 26.
After military service in World War, Pickering returned to the Daily Mail as managing editor, a job he held from 1947 until 1949. He later joined the Daily Express in the same post before becoming editor.
In 1964, Pickering joined the Daily Mirror as editorial director, becoming chairman of its newspaper and magazines division, and finally chairman of Mirror Group Newspapers from 1975 to 1977.
In 1981, Murdoch made Pickering a director of Times Newspapers Holdings, and the following year he became executive vice chairman of Times Newspapers.
He is survived by a daughter from his first marriage in 1936 to Margaret Soutter, and two sons and a daughter from his second marriage in 1955 to Rosemary Whitton.
Funeral services were not immediately announced.