I’ve been remiss in not posting sooner, but still want to say a few words about someone who was among those enterprising journalists who spurred me into a career that I greatly enjoyed.
I never met Ben Bradlee, what with thousands of miles and different career paths in the journalistic world and all between us. But his recent passing brought back a lot of memories, including the images from “All The President’s Men,” featuring Jason Robards as Bradlee, managing editor of the Washington Post. His constant prodding of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein helped lead to the resignation of a president, but more important in my mind was why and how he helped the two young reporters keep going after the story.
If you’ve seen the movie or read the book, you know what I mean. Bradlee had the kind of determination not always seen in these days of downsizing newspapers, overworked reporters and a public that seemingly wants to spend their time watching cute cats on YouTube instead of learning what their government and leaders are up to.
Bradlee wasn’t infallible, and I’m not sure he was the kind of guy I would have hung around with on my off hours, but I think he would have made me a better reporter. Or caused me to seek another line of work. I’m pretty sure it would have been the former.
I recall when I and several of my fellow high school newspaper staff members went to see “All The President’s Men” in 1976. Young, impressionable minds were lured by the romance of the story, of bringing to light an abuse of power that none had believed would ever happen. I’d be interested in finding out how many budding high school journalists took up the torch like I did because of that movie and book. Let alone the actual historical event.
I hope there are other Ben Bradlees out there, egging young journalists on and teaching them the ropes of what it means to be a reporter. Maybe he or she will one day be looked back on with the same admiration and respect.