“To love what you do and feel that it matters how could anything be more fun?”
– Katharine Graham
Award-winning writer and publisher of The Washington Post for over two decades, Graham, who was born this day in 1917,s is especially remembered for her newspaper's role in exposing the Watergate Scandal. I loved reading her Pulitzer Prize winning memoir, simply titled Personal History, and what a history it was, exuding both her joy of working in media and the fun she had doing it. She and her editorial team not only revived a so-so newspaper and made it into a national power, but also oversaw the Post at the time of it’s Watergate coverage. That investigative effort still stands as the benchmark for “how it’s done,” winning numerous awards and leading President Richard Nixon to resign – the only President to ever resign the office..
Graham said that she always stood behind her star reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein and her editor Ben Bradlee, and never wavered in her belief that what they were doing was not only right, but necessary.
A Republican who led the investigative reporting of a Republican president, she said that politics should never get in the way of good reporting. “It matters not if a person is from one party or another,” she said. “If someone has done something that needs to be exposed in print, then that’s what a good reporter should do.”
By the time she retired, she was considered one of the most powerful and influential women in America, not only overseeing The Washington Post and all its affiliates, but also Newsweek Magazine in New York. A personal friend of luminaries like Truman Capote and Adlai Stevenson, who was twice a candidate for U.S. President and served as the U.N. Ambassador, she was awarded the Freedom Medal and The Presidential Medal of Freedom. Shortly before her death in 2001, the International Press Institute named her one of the world’s 50 most influential and powerful media people of the 20th century.
“Once, power was considered a masculine attribute,” Graham said when told of the honor. “In fact, power has no sex.”
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