David Halberstam represented many things to the profession of journalism.
Most of all, I think, he demonstrated that a reporter who does his job can make a difference. Halberstam was one of the first people to say that we were wrong to be in Vietnam in the early 1960s. He did this not out of ideological bent — he had been a supporter of our efforts there — but because he had been in country and had seen how much the situation there differed with the official version that the U.S. government was trying to propogate. Halberstam’s reporting and information led him to his opinions (not the other way around).
He laid all of this out in his best-selling 1973 book, The Best and Brightest.
Even after Vietnam, Halberstam continued to be reporter. He wrote about the media, the generations, the auto industry and sports. To each of those subjects he devoted the dogged determination of a reporter trying to get the facts and understand the people involved in a story. He was doing just that when he was killed in a car accident in California earlier this week. He was on his way to interview a source for his latest book. He was 73 years old.
Here are tributes and other information about Halberstam:
• Fresh Air interviews with Halberstam
• Roy Peter Clark, David Halberstam: Witness to War, Poynter Institute
• Jon Meacham, The Best and the Brightest, Newsweek
• Henry Allen, A Journalist for Whom There Were Not Enough Words, Washington Post
(Posted April 27, 2007)
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