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Poynter.
  • Journalists reflect on Ben Bradlee’s life and career

    The editor who presided over the rise of The Washington Post and the fall of a president died Tuesday at 93. Here’s what journalists are saying about Bradlee’s legendary life and career:

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  • Ben Bradlee dead at 93
    FILE - In this June 21, 1971 file photo, Washington Post Executive Director Ben Bradlee and Post Publisher Katharine Graham leave U.S. District Court in Washington. Bradlee died Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014, according to the Washington Post. (AP Photo, File)

    FILE – In this June 21, 1971 file photo, Washington Post Executive Director Ben Bradlee and Post Publisher Katharine Graham leave U.S. District Court in Washington. Bradlee died Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014, according to the Washington Post. (AP Photo, File)

    The Washington Post | The New Yorker | Time

    Ben Bradlee, editor of The Washington Post from 1965 to 1991, died on Tuesday at 93 of natural causes, former managing editor Robert G. Kaiser wrote for the Post.

    Bradlee’s time as editor of the Post included coverage of Watergate and the Pentagon Papers — still some of journalism’s biggest stories.

    During his tenure, a paper that had previously won just four Pulitzer Prizes, only one of which was for reporting, won 17 more, including the Public Service award for the Watergate coverage.

    “Ben Bradlee was the best American newspaper editor of his time and had the greatest impact on his newspaper of any modern editor,” said Donald E. Graham, who succeeded his mother as publisher of The Post and Mr. Bradlee’s boss.

    “So much of The Post is Ben,” Mrs. Graham said in 1994, three years after Bradlee retired as editor. “He created it as we know it today.”

    David Remnick wrote about Bradlee’s death for The New Yorker.

    Recently, Tom Zito, a feature writer and critic at the Post during the Bradlee era, told me this story:

    “One afternoon in the fall of 1971, I was summoned to Ben’s office. I was the paper’s rock critic at the time. A few minutes earlier, at the Post’s main entrance, a marshal from the Department of Justice had arrived, bearing a grand-jury subpoena in my name. As was the case ever since the Department of Justice and the Post had clashed over the Pentagon Papers, earlier that year, rules about process service dictated that the guard at the front desk call Bradlee’s office, where I was now sitting and being grilled about the business of the grand jury and its potential impact on the paper. I explained that my father was of Italian descent, lived in New Jersey, had constructed many publicly financed apartment buildings—and was now being investigated by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York regarding income-tax evasion. ‘Your father?’ Ben exclaimed in disbelief, and then called out to his secretary, ‘Get John Mitchell on the phone.’ In less than a minute, the voice of the Attorney General could be heard on the speaker box, asking, somewhat curtly, ‘What do you want, Ben?’ In his wonderfully gruff but patrician demeanor, and flashing a broad smile to me, Ben replied, ‘What I want is for you to never again send a subpoena over here asking any of my reporters to give grand-jury testimony about their parents. And if you do, I’m going to personally come over there and shove it up your ass.’ The subpoena was quashed the next day.”

    The Post has quotes on Bradlee from a number of its stars, including Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

    “Ben was a true friend and genius leader in journalism. He forever altered our business. His one unbending principle was the quest for the truth and the necessity of that pursuit. He had the courage of an army. Ben had an intuitive understanding of the history of our profession, its formative impact on him and all of us. But he was utterly liberated from that. He was an original who charted his own course. We loved him deeply, and he will never be forgotten or replaced in our lives.”

    On October 3, Jill Abramson, former executive editor of The New York Times, wrote about Bradlee for Time, including how he weathered the scandal after it was revealed that Pulitzer winner Janet Cooke made up the work that won her that Pulitzer.

    During that time Ben showed what he was made of. He had to return a Pulitzer Prize that Cooke had won about a made up 8-year-old heroin addict. He had to invite his boss, Donald Graham, to have breakfast at his house and tell him that he and his vaunted team of all-stars, made famous in the movie All the President’s Men, had failed the Graham family. He had to face his own crushed newsroom and, ultimately, the Post’s disappointed readers.

    This would surely have brought down any other editor. So why did Ben Bradlee survive and triumph? It wasn’t simply because he was so powerful or well connected, having transformed the Post during Watergate into a national newspaper and showcase for the blazingly talented writers he hired and nurtured. Bob Woodward tried to explain Ben’s durability after the top editors at the Times lost their jobs in the Jayson Blair scandal. “Bradlee was a great editor and loved by everybody,” Woodward said. “Not just the people who knew him well, but down the ranks.”

    On Tuesday night, journalists shared quotes from Bradlee on Twitter.

    "In the Washington bureau of Newsweek, even one's most beautiful prose was rewritten by some faceless bastard in New York." #BenBradlee

    — Carlos Lozada (@CarlosLozadaWP) October 22, 2014

    "Get some better information next time." RIP #BenBradlee

    — Sean Robinson (@seanrobinsonTNT) October 22, 2014

    #BenBradlee in 1974: His first words were, "Look, pal, I know what you'll write. People say I'm cruel. I'm not." http://t.co/uprqqMw12Y

    — Jack Limpert (@bluepencil2) October 13, 2014

    #BenBradlee: "I never believed that Nixon could fully resurrect himself. And the proof of that was in the obits." pic.twitter.com/bXVs1rs9I7

    — Bryan Logan (@BWLogan) October 22, 2014

    "Worry? Me, worry?I don't fucking worry!" Ben Bradlee to young David Remnick – from my NPR obit for Bradlee http://t.co/c5PdH0sSBT

    — David Folkenflik (@davidfolkenflik) October 22, 2014

    Words to run a newsroom by: "Hire people smarter than you are and encourage them to bloom." #BenBradlee http://t.co/Hd0SgWX4ct

    — Jeff Good (@jgoodstories) October 22, 2014

    #BenBradlee in his memoir, on Richard Nixon: "In his darkest hour, he gave the press its finest hour."

    — Carlos Lozada (@CarlosLozadaWP) October 22, 2014

    "Those [Watergate] tapes are going to take me to my grave with a huge smile on my face.." -Ben Bradlee http://t.co/Bgv45Hrtc5

    — Christine Delargy (@CADelargy) October 22, 2014

    "Sometimes, he’d saunter by your desk & say encouraging things like, “Don’t f— it up.” http://t.co/AMhFDG2u2c #RIP pic.twitter.com/Y3XBpC1h70

    — David Beard (@dabeard) October 22, 2014

    Ben Bradlee: "If you made the paper better every day, … and you reached higher, the paper would get better." http://t.co/2QakFF6Hde

    — Michael Gold (@migold) October 22, 2014


    Ben Bradlee, former executive editor of The Washington Post, seated during an event sponsored by The Washington Post to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Watergate Monday, June 11, 2012 at the Watergate office building in Washington. Bradlee died on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    Ben Bradlee, former executive editor of The Washington Post, seated during an event sponsored by The Washington Post to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Watergate Monday, June 11, 2012 at the Watergate office building in Washington. Bradlee died on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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  • Poynter to host African journalists turned away from USF St. Petersburg

    The Poynter Institute will host a group of Edward R. Murrow journalists from African countries whose visit to the University of South Florida at St. Petersburg was canceled because of concerns about spread of the Ebola virus, Poynter president Tim Franklin announced today.

    In an impromptu meeting, Franklin told Poynter staff that the decision to host the journalists — who are not from Ebola-affected countries — is rooted in the best traditions of the institute.

    “Poynter has a long history and tradition of inclusion, it has a long history of training journalists, both here and abroad, and I think in that spirit, it’s something we can and should do at Poynter,” Franklin said.

    The journalists were scheduled to visit USF St. Petersburg for five days starting Oct. 31 as part of the Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists, which brings 100 international journalists to the United States annually. University administrators canceled that visit, citing “concerns about transmission of Ebola virus

    RELATED: “Covering Ebola: A Poynter Conversation”

    The university’s decision to cancel the program Friday was motivated by worries from faculty, students and staff, said Jessica Blais, director of communications for the university and former director of marketing for the Poynter Institute.

    “One of the things we’ve emphasized to people over the last couple of days is that given concerns of faculty, students and staff, we really did not feel confident that we could present the program in the excellent form that we’ve provided in the past,” Blais said.

    On Monday, a few days after USF St. Petersburg finalized its decision not to host the event, World Partnerships Inc., a not-for-profit state department grantee that handles logistics and travel arrangements for the Murrow Program, reached out to Poynter and asked whether the institute would consider hosting the program. On Tuesday afternoon, the institute agreed to host the journalists for three days, starting Oct. 31 and continuing to Nov. 4.

    Although the not-for-profit got fairly short notice to find a host for the journalists, it’s used to adapting on the fly, said Gary Springer, president of World Partnerships Inc. The company often has to accommodate travel plans for many such international trips at once.

    “We run programs and groups through here almost every week,” Springer said.

    The list of journalists visiting St. Petersburg has been altered slightly since the university’s cancellation Friday. On Monday, the U.S. Department of State decided two journalists — from Liberia and Sierra Leone — would have their trip placed on hold because they come from areas affected by the outbreak, said Nathan Arnold, a spokesperson from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

    When news of the university’s cancellation was made public Monday, several people from Poynter suggested that the institute host the Murrow group, said Kelly McBride, vice president of academic programs at the institute.

    “It seemed like the right thing to do, and I was really proud that people wanted to step up and do this,” McBride said.

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Joan Vadeboncoeur

Herald-Journal

Herald American

Joan E. Vadeboncoeur, went to work at The Post-Standard as a reporter immediately after graduating from Sarah Lawrence College. But since she already had several years experience in theater work, she was a natural choice years later when the job of entertainment writer-editor opened at the Herald-Journal.
Joan, a life resident of the Syracuse area, began working in the box office of Famous Artists Country Playhouse in Fayetteville while still in high school. During summer vacations in college, Joan switched to the Famous Artists Country Playhouse in East Rochester, where she also worked in the box office and as assistant to the producer.

While studying theater at Sarah Lawrence, Joan gained more experience by working in a Broadway producer's office. Her jobs included working on "Midsummer," the play in which Geraldine Page made her Broadway bow. She also appeared in college productions.

After two years at The Post-Standard, Joan moved to the Herald-Journal as a general assignment reporter covering traffic accidents and other mishaps, and writing obituaries. She often rode in ambulances to accident scenes. Soon, her duties expanded as she filled in for vacationing movie and television writers.

Not too much later, Joan was appointed as music writer. Within two years, she became entertainment writer-editor, which included television, music, films, and theater.

Joan, now an entertainment columnist, has received the Syracuse Press Club's Lifetime Achievement Award, and has been honored by the Salt City Center for the Performing Arts and the Contemporary Theatre of Syracuse. She is a former member of Women in Communications. --Joseph A. Porcell
Last Updated ( Monday, 17 November 2008 01:26 )
 
"Criticism of government finds sanctuary in several portions of the 1st Amendment. It is part of the right of free speech. It embraces freedom of the press."
---    Hugo L Black, Associate Justice, US Supreme Court

Wall of Distinction


Emanuel "Blair" Henderson Sr.

The Progressive Herald

Emmanuel Blair Henderson was a columnist for The Progressive Herald, an African-American newspaper in Syracuse during the 1940s and 1950s -- a time when black people weren't included as employees in mainstream media.
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