In the ugly business of news gathering, this was historically sad:
Former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee is in hospice care after his health has declined over the past two months, said his wife, Sally Quinn.
(Illustration: Ben Bradlee, left, and Bob Woodward, in 1976, found here).
Bradlee, now an unbelievable 93-years-old, has suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for several years, and has recently started getting worse — Quinn ‘said her husband sleeps 20 hours a day and doesn’t eat much,’ and began Hospice care in DC the middle of this month.
The end for Bradlee looks close as Hospice usually means now it’s only a matter of time.
And at one time, Bradlee presided over the golden age of modern journalism — the mid-1970s — and my old profession has never seen the likes again.
As executive editor of the Washington Post from 1968 to 1991, Bradlee oversaw two of the biggest scandals in US history — the Pentagon Papers affair, and, of course, Watergate.
The latter greatly influencing young newspaper reporters like myself, and thousands and thousands of others, who emerged from journalism schools to news rooms with a wonderful chip on our shoulders. In that august period, working in journalism was not only ‘way-neat,’ but seemed to be a calling, more than just a job.
And Watergate produced Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, a couple together inspired all of us — if we worked it right, fame, riches and women were there for the big story. In my job in those days, I pictured myself as Dustin Hoffman playing Bernstein in “All The President’s Men,” perhaps the greatest recruiting tool for budding journalists since forever. In the photo above, Bradlee and Woodward were attending the film premiere.
Nowadays, however, the gloss has way-worn off the gem: Add all that together and newspaper reporter rings in at a dismal 200 out of 200 – the worst job on CareerCast’s list, below lumberjack, janitor, garbage collector and bus driver.
No wonder — no more Ben Bradlees.
“It’s been the most horrible experience I’ve ever had up until recently — and he’s still at home, I still have him sleeping in the bed with me and I will, until the end — a certain peace has come over me, and this feeling of serenity,” Quinn told C-SPAN.
“Because what I thought was going to be horrible, the caretaking part of it, has become almost sacred.”
Newsrooms all over should be sad — but a lot of these clowns who call themselves journalists nowadays, might respond, ‘Ben, who?’
And that’s sad.