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RIP: Ben Bradlee, journalist and freedom fighter

Wed 2014-Oct-22 @ MYT 16:09:59 pm

Farewell, Mr Bradlee

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. The standard he set — a standard for honest, objective, meticulous reporting — encouraged so many others to enter the profession. And that standard is why, last year, I was proud to honor Ben with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
BARACK OBAMA
President of the United States

Legendary Washington Post editor dies at 93

The Washington Post obituary

He was a presence, a force…” Woodward recalled of Mr. Bradlee’s role during the Watergate period, 1972 to 1974. “And he was a doubter, a skeptic — ‘Do we have it yet?’ ‘Have we proved it?’ ” Decades later, Woodward remembered the words that he most hated to hear from Mr. Bradlee then: “You don’t have it yet, kid.”
BOB WOODWARD

From the moment he took over The Post newsroom in 1965, Mr. Bradlee sought to create an important newspaper that would go far beyond the traditional model of a metropolitan daily.

He achieved that goal by combining compelling news stories based on aggressive reporting with engaging feature pieces of a kind previously associated with the best magazines. His charm and gift for leadership helped him hire and inspire a talented staff and eventually made him the most celebrated newspaper editor of his era.

The most compelling story of Mr. Bradlee’s tenure, almost certainly the one of greatest consequence, was Watergate, a political scandal touched off by The Post’s reporting that ended in the only resignation of a president in U.S. history.

But Mr. Bradlee’s most important decision, made with Katharine Graham, The Post’s publisher, may have been to print stories based on the Pentagon Papers, a secret Pentagon history of the Vietnam War. The Nixon administration went to court to try to quash those stories, but the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the decision of the New York Times and The Post to publish them.

Small bites at the apple
Newspapering deals with small daily bites from a fruit of indeterminate size. It may take dozens of bites before you are sure it’s an apple. Dozens and dozens more bites before you have any real idea how big the apple might be. It was that way with Watergate.
BEN BRADLEE

GOING OFFSTONE: THE BIG STORY

“Nixon Resigns” Ben Bradlee in the caseroom with the next morning’s front page. Aug 9. 1974

Tribute to an editor’s editor

Whenever I found myself alone on the streets of Beirut, I would just shrug off the shelling, the gunmen, and the dark corners, telling myself there is this distinguished eminence up there who really appreciates and understands the true meaning of courage in journalism. . . .
NORA BOUSTANY
Washington Post foreign correspondent

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