Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Passing Scene

Last night there was a story on the 11pm news out of Burlington. I did not realize that it was a "local" story. This morning it is a National story. Tom Wicker, a journalist who had written for the New York Times, has passed away. He'd been living in Rochester, Vermont, next county up. (I've always liked Rochester, and if work wasn't an issue, it would be a great place to park oneself while waiting for the light. Completely cut off by the August hurricane Irene, the town turned its website over to dealing with the emergency. A recent 'front page' topic was a meeting for a storytelling project to help town citizens tell their stories. And they do have stories - it was in Rochester that the flood waters destroyed a cemetery and left open coffins strewn about.)

Even the Times has yet to catch up to the news story with a decent obituary. Wicker was a top reporter. Somehow, he managed to keep his journalist's detachment even while reporting the most emotion laden stories. But he had strong opinions, and he became one of the Times' great editorialists, witting "In the Nation" three times a week. He was one of the people at the top of the Nixon enemies list. It was Wicker who wrote that Nixon was  implementing "the beginnings of a police state". His 1978 book "On the Press" took the fourth estate to task for becoming a mouthpiece for government and business.  His last editorial for the New York Times was written on December 29th, 1991. He wrote, "As the U.S. did not hesitate to spend its resources to prevail in the cold war, it needs now to go forward as boldly to lead a longer, more desperate struggle to save the planet, and rescue the human race from itself." He was another guy who "got it". Requiesecat in pace.

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