A Moment of Silence in the Newsroom, If You Please. 10/22/14

Ben Bradlee has died at the ripe old age of 93 years. You can read the Washington Post obituary here.

He was an icon of journalism and a tradition of communication that is long gone now, so infected with electronic doo-hickeys is the news these days. Never mind the too-often casual approach to fact checking. To say Bradlee saw a lot during his fifty plus decades in journalism is beyond understatement. His death signals one of those fabled “ends of an era,” and all of us who love that industry are more than a little sad today.

I fell in love with newspapers as a child. The smell, the transportability, the romance of the whole world in a stack of low grade sheets. I wanted to be a reporter so bad! But real journalism requires stones. I have a pretty big chip on my shoulder, but not one so big I can’t admit I didn’t have the skills and single-minded dedication required to do the gig justice. Better to switch to writing fiction. Good fiction also requires stones, but offers the comfort zone of “make believe” that journalism doesn’t. Or, at any rate, shouldn’t. But man oh man, I do love good reporting! I try to apply some of the skills of good reporting to writing my books, like Hemingway and Leonard did. And if I could make even half the career out of writing fiction that Bradlee made out of conscientious, factual news reporting…. The idea gives me goosebumps. Do I have the stones for that? I like to think so, but the truth remains to be seen.

“As long as a journalist tells the truth, in conscience and fairness,
it is not his job to worry about consequences.
The truth is never as dangerous as a lie in the long run.
I truly believe the truth sets men free.”
— Ben Bradlee (1921-2014)

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