Thursday, November 09, 2006

Ed Bradley, 1941-2006

Ed Bradley lived the good journalistic life.

Think about all of the roles he held during his life, which, sadly, ended on Thursday after a battle with leukemia: Foreign correspondent in Paris and Saigon. War correspondent. White House correspondent. Fill-in network anchor. Long-form journalist.

Each of those titles, of its own accord, could make for a wonderful career for any journalist. Yet we know one person can do all of that, because Ed Bradley did.

In the sportswriting world, it would be like taking the current roles of Sports Illustrated writers Peter King, Tom Verducci, Jack McCallum, Rick Reilly and Gary Smith and doing each over the course of a career.

But Bradley's reportage dealt with far more weighty issues than games and contracts and firings, and that's why the journalism world sheds a tear for his passing.

I never watched much 60 Minutes. But in the few instances I did, he had a presence that overshadowed his piece. Usually that's a bad thing, but in Bradley's case, it lent a significance to the story. It felt like wow, they didn't leave this piece to Steve Kroft or Lesley Stahl - they got the big dog out there. (No disrespect to them, of course.) There was a certain palpable gravity he brought to the show and to his reporting.

His numerous obituaries will tell you he was a savvy interviewer. His trademark earring gave him a bit of street cred too, and he even earned a mention on The Chappelle Show. That sort of thing doesn't happen to Lara Logan, David Gregory or Christiane Amanpour.

This all serves to point out that Bradley was not your average journalist. He wasn't even your average Washington-based network journalist.

He was someone special. Lifetime achievement awards, like the one he received from the National Association of Black Journalists, aren't reserved for the average.

His success in many different areas made him special, and his reporting made a difference - something that, as journalists, is our ultimate goal.

And that's why we shed a tear for his passing.

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