“Good News Is Not Real News.”

From a Washingtonian interview with Stephen Rosenfeld, editor of the Washington Post editorial page, in June 2000:

Q. Who were the stars at the Post during your four decades?

A. Meg Greenfield was most special for me. As editorial page editor,  she had a quicksilver mind and greater penetration of issues than any other journalist I’d seen. She was sly, shrewd, secretive, insightful, and unbelievably funny. She had her moods, but she examined policies and programs deeply, as well as the human condition broadly.

I didn’t work closely with Ben Bradlee, as he was news and I was editorial, but I observed him. Ben’s a fabulous editor  with snap-finger alertness. He broke the big stories but kept his discretion. Above all, he sensed what interested people. And Ben had an edge to him. If journalism’s best aspect is irreverence, Bradlee set the standard.

Q. Yet irreverence leads to negativism and people consider the press too negative.

A. We are negative. We write about thing going wrong. Good news is not real news.

Television has celebritized journalists. They have to react in five seconds. They don’t balance information with probity and respect. They push toward quickness, irreverence, and sometimes nastiness.

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