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Old Reporters Never Die

NPR's Margot Adler said she was going to a party last night and asked if I was interested. Of course I was interested, but she sent me this instead of taking me:

When I was growing up in the 1950s in New York City, my father always said to me, "Read The New York Times when the Republicans are in power; read The New York Herald Tribune when the Democrats are governing." It was a phrase you could say in those days, because there were eight newspapers in the New York City, and rivalry between the Times and the Herald Tribune was feisty and legendary.

The New York Herald Tribune died 40 years ago, so this past Tuesday evening it was pretty amazing to be in the old Tribune building for a 40th reunion of all the editors, reporters and columnists. About a 100 people showed up — some of them names you might have heard of: Tom Wolfe, Richard Reeves, Dick Wald.

Dick Wald was the managing editor when the paper folded — later he would become president of NBC news. The Tribune failed, he said, but it was a writer's paper. The New York Times was stodgier, but better managed. Looking back at those years, Wald said:

"There were fewer rules. It was easier to get a job, the reporters were not as well educated and, of course, we were younger. And when you're young, the drinks are better, the food is better — everything is better."

Judith Crist, who was a reporter, arts editor and film critic at the paper, was standing around with Joe Morgenstern, the movie critic for the Wall Street Journal. "She was my editor at the Trib," he said, laughing. They both said journalists don't have as much fun today. "The stakes are so much higher now," said Crist, "the romance has disappeared. Then, it was riskier and freer." All that mattered, she said is "Joe and I could get into the movies for free. To see movies, during the day, to get paid for seeing them! What is heaven for?"

Update: We changed the spelling of Judith Crist's name after receiving an e-mail from her which you can read in the comment section below.