A Calvinist in Gotham

In the early 50's, Philip Graham of the Washington Post tried to hire James  Reston away from the New York Times at twice the coins the Sulzbergers were dispensing. Thanks, but no thanks, Reston said-and kept saying whenever his friend Graham sought to renew the discussion. The Times family was James Reston's family, professionally speaking. He was flesh of its flesh and hone of its bone, which is why his career there rose to the heights: head of the Washington bureau, executive editor, columnist since time out of mind, holder of 28 honorary degrees, winner of two Pulitzer Prizes for reporting. 

Newspapers, in contrast with yogurt shops and insurance companies, have personalities of their own. These normally are imprinted by owners who can sec beyond the profit and loss statement and who feel the stirrings of Mission. The homogenization of American news papers is due as much as anything else to the loss of local ownership, but that's another story. 

The Times, still family-owned, is the student body president of newspapers smart, knowing, given on occasion to self-importance and hectoring; not flashy, not glitzy, inclined to stodginess but withal steady and dutiful, with an inbred sense of citizenship and responsibility, and not without the capacity for adaptation and change. Ditto Scotty Reston. Neither institution-Scotty or the Times-is to everybody's...

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