Ben Bradlee on Journalism

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of the late, great Ben Bradlee, editor of the Washington Post during the Watergate era.

His commitment to excellence–and to the truth–during a critical time in this country’s history is inspirational.  He embodied a no nonsense approach to journalism. He also embraced lofty ideals concerning the role ‘the press’ (as opposed to today’s ‘media’) plays in a democracy.

The combination of these two perspectives brought out the best in his reporters and in his newspaper.

I recently came across an interview from the 1980s in which he discussed the Watergate story, the impact of very public success as well as very public failure (he experienced a few of both).

The video is 28 minutes long. You can find it HERE.

My suggestion is that you brew a cup of coffee and pull up a chair. Watch the video unhurried. Take it in. Digest it.

What you’ll hear Ben Bradlee articulate is the mindset that today’s newspaper publishers, editors, and journalists should possess: the thoroughness, the candor, the rigor, the courage–everything it takes to gather, distill, analyze, organize, write, and print news that’s going to inform and enlighten. And the willingness to take the beating or the blessing that comes along with doing that job.

Make no mistake: a free, responsible, and relentless press is key to ‘We the People’ maintaining a healthy democracy. It helps us make informed and perhaps even good choices when it comes to the people we put in office…and the people we allow to stay in office.

It also helps us sort out the fact from the hyperbole, especially when it comes to climate change, vaccines, and foreign policy, just to name a few.

So take a moment a listen to Old Money Guy Ben Bradlee. There’s more than a little wisdom here. Enjoy.

  • BGT

 


One thought on “Ben Bradlee on Journalism

  1. Good afternoon Byron,

    An interesting interview. Something that did catch my attention was when he mentioned that editors were sometimes owners. That might have gone a long way to ensuring the accuracy of reporting, albeit with some subjectivity of the person with the final say.

    These days however, and particularly with the major papers and channels being owned by multinationals some of which are so large (they) decide who will stand for office, I can’t help thinking that the truth is being very seriously manipulated on a grand scale. The journalists and writers do what the editors and producers tell them to come up with. The editors and producers do what the multinational owners tell them to do. They’re in turn trying to satisfy the shareholders who want ever-higher returns. Accuracy and truth, as the saying goes, become the first victims of war.

    Multinationals put the President of your adopted country in the seat. Now he has a certain right wing person nipping at his ankles and virtually every channel is gunning for the right wing guy. Really ? Every channel finds him wrong when a fair swathe of the population agree with him, at least in principle ?

    By checking the owners of the channels one might be able to draw a conclusion (not) on who might be accurate and truthful but what is to be said, not said and importantly how it is said.

    An Old Money lesson to be learned from this: manage your money and resources well. Don’t ride the linear portion of the financial graph just because you can and you have a well laid job with a large disposable portion. Don’t spend beyond your means and always have a nest egg, even your own-created one to fall back on. Never mind the perils of Covid and depression years. Worse, is when remaining on the linear portion of the debt-servicing graph requires you to lie, omit and falsify.

    Thanks again and regards,
    David.

    Regards.
    David.

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