Benjamin Crowninshield "Ben" Bradlee (b. August 26, 1921) is a vice
president at-large of The Washington Post. As executive editor of the
Post from 1968 to 1991, he became a national figure during the
presidency of Richard Nixon, when he challenged the federal government
over the right to publish the Pentagon Papers and oversaw the
publication of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's stories documenting the
Watergate scandal. (Click
for full Wikipedia article.)
As a child, one looks for compliments. As an adult, one looks for
evidence of effectiveness.
As long as a journalist tells the truth, in conscience and fairness, it
is not his job to worry about consequences. The truth is never as
dangerous as a lie in the long run. I truly believe the truth sets men
Churchill writes memoirs. Journalists and editors don't write memoirs.
Editors do run the risk of appearing arrogant if they choose to disagree
with anybody who calls them arrogant.
Everybody who talks to a newspaper has a motive. That's just a given.
And good reporters always, repeat always, probe to find out what that
Generals who can write always make me nervous.
Have a good time. The newspaper will be great if you’re having a good
I do worry about how newspapers respond to falling circulation figures.
I'm not sure that the answer is for newspapers to try to cater to
whatever seems to be the fad of the day.
I don't mean to sound arrogant, but we're in a holy profession.
I have no lint left in my navel for that.
I used to love the newspaper business because if you had an idea, you
could get it into the paper immediately, in a matter of hours. Now you
have to watch out and worry about who you are offending and blah blah
blah. So it's changed.
I've been here longer than God.
If an investigative reporter finds out that someone has been robbing the
store, that may be 'gotcha' journalism, but it's also good journalism.
In the perfect world every source could be identified, but like the man
said, 'It's not a perfect world.'
It changes your life, the pursuit of truth, if you know that you have
tried to find the truth and gone past the first apparent truth towards
the real truth. It's very, it's very exciting.
It is my experience that most claims of national security are part of a
campaign to avoid telling the truth.
It wasn't in me to preach. I can say somebody's a horse's ass, but I
can't tell people what to do.
It's very hard to stand up to the government which is saying that
publication will threaten national security. People don't seem to
realize that reporters and editors know something about national
security and care deeply about it.
Maybe some of today's papers have too many 'feel-good' features, but
there is a lot of good news out there.
One of the lessons I learned in journalism is that you don't argue with
the A shares.
Pick your fights. Don't duck 'em, but don't fight second-rate opponents.
Some guy tells you something. He says that's a national security matter.
Well, you're supposed to tremble and get scared and it never, almost
never means the security of the national government. More likely to mean
the security or the personal happiness of the guy who is telling you
The history of American politics is littered with bodies of people who
took so pure a position that they had no clout at all.
There really isn't enough time in the day to convene a task force on
every little decision. If you're publishing 140,000 words five times a
day you've got to decide. And you've got to get it off the table and get
on to the next one before you go crazy.
There will always be leaks; in Washington, everywhere.
When the history of the world is written, this will not be in it.
You never monkey with the truth.
Quotes of the day
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