|courtesy: Washington Post|
He was running the paper during the Watergate era, and a passage in his Washington Post obituary, written by Robert G. Kaiser, jumped out at me. It was a quote from Robert Woodward, one of the Post's two main Watergate writers.
“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.”
You see, it takes stones to run a story. It takes even more to hold back until you are absolutely sure you are right.
I hope every journalism professor in America reads the Bradlee obit, prints it, and distributes it to students. From what I've observed, students are being learned how to push buttons, plus social media. They're lacking in hard driven fact based journalism. I've even witnessed irresponsibility in those who have been drawing "professional" pay checks for years.
Ben Bradlee saw the media's role in maintaining a vibrant democracy, holding people's feet to the fire, and making sure they're accountable. He also saw how important it was to make sure his own people had the i's dotted and t's crossed. After all, they were taking on the President of the United States.
Let's get it right.