The journalism world lost a revered editor last week. Ben Bradlee was executive editor of The Washington Post for 26 years. He oversaw the Pulitzer-prize winning Watergate coverage by Woodward and Bernstein. He led the controversial publishing of the Pentagon papers. He transformed a daily newspaper into one of the most vital tools of democracy in this country.
There’s nothing I can be more grateful for as an aspiring journalist than to have an idol like Bradlee. He established what it means to be a journalist: he sought the truth and was determined to report it.
Yesterday, my journalism class participated in a phone call with Jules Witcover, a famed ‘Boys on the Bus’ journalist who worked under Bradlee at the Post for about four years and called him a friend for many, many more. Witcover said Bradlee was “the greatest of all newspaper editors I’ve encountered in 65 years in the business.”
What others said…
Post columnist, Eugene Robinson: “He made you understand that journalism was not a career but a mission. He made you feel that how well you did your job was not just important to your own ambitions but had a real impact on society. He demanded more than you thought you could possibly deliver, and you moved heaven and earth not to disappoint him.”
President Obama: “For Benjamin Bradlee, journalism was more than a profession – it was a public good vital to our democracy. A true newspaperman, he transformed the Washington Post into one of the country’s finest newspapers, and with him at the helm, a growing army of reporters published the Pentagon Papers, exposed Watergate, and told stories that needed to be told – stories that helped us understand our world and one another a little bit better.”
“Nose down, ass up and moving steadily forward into the future.”