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Gazeteci Ben Haig Bagdikian , 96 Yaşında Vefat Etti
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MessagePosté le: Dim 13 Mar 2016 - 11:22
MessageSujet du message: Gazeteci Ben Haig Bagdikian , 96 Yaşında Vefat Etti
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Gazeteci Ben Haig Bagdikian , 96 Yaşında Vefat Etti

Ben H. Bagdikian, played key role in Pentagon Papers case, dies at 96

Ben H. Bagdikian, a key figure in the publication of the Pentagon Papers by The Washington Post in 1971, which resulted in a momentous legal victory supporting freedom of the press, who later became an influential educator and media critic, died March 11 at his home in Berkeley, California. He was 96.

His wife, Marlene Griffith Bagdikian, confirmed the death but did not specify a cause.

Bagdikian had a multifaceted career as a reporter and editor, including a daring undercover mission for The Post when he posed as an inmate at a Pennsylvania prison while doing an investigative series on the penal system.

Perhaps his most significant contribution, however, came in 1971, when he was The Post’s assistant managing editor for national news. The New York Times had published excerpts from the Pentagon Papers, a surreptitiously copied secret history of U.S. involvement in Vietnam since World War II.

After a federal judge ordered the Times to stop publishing the papers for reasons of national security, Bagdikian received a phone call asking him to go to Boston for a clandestine meeting. He was to meet Daniel Ellsberg, a onetime defense analyst he had met years earlier, who would deliver copies of the Pentagon Papers to him. He was told to bring an empty suitcase with him.

“The suitcase he’d brought was too small for what he was given,” the late Post publisher Katharine Graham wrote in her 1997 memoir, “Personal History,” “so he loaded the Papers into a big cardboard box and flew back to Washington on a first-class seat, with the box occupying the seat beside him – an additional expense the Post didn’t mind paying.”

Executive editor Benjamin C. Bradlee later recalled in a speech the moment when “silver-haired Ben Bagdikian, his shoulders bending under the burden of two heavy cartons, staggered up the stairs of my house … and dropped the Pentagon Papers on my living room floor.”

Bagdikian was among the editors and reporters who reviewed more than 4,000 jumbled pages, preparing extracts for publication. There were arguments between The Post’s news staff and legal team, weighing the consequences of publishing the papers.

Bagdikian was one of the strongest voices in favor of publication, arguing that the government could not use the cloak of “national security” to limit what newspapers could print.

He uttered a line that neatly summed up the principle involved: ‘The only way to assert the right to publish is to publish.”

“Bradlee had never admired Bagdikian more,” David Halberstam wrote in his 1979 book about the media, “The Powers That Be.”

The Post published the papers, then joined the Times in a legal battle that, because of its national importance, reached the U.S. Supreme Court within days. The court ruled that the government could not impose “prior restraint” on the newspapers to block publication of the Pentagon Papers. It is considered one of the country’s most significant cases supporting the First Amendment’s right to freedom of the press.

Several months after the Pentagon Papers, Bagdikian led a Post investigation of conditions in U.S. prisons. In one harrowing story, he went undercover disguised as a murderer, in order to observe prison life from the inside.

He was originally planning to enter a facility in Oklahoma until an ex-convict warned him, “You’ll never get out alive.”

Instead, Bagdikian approached the attorney general of Pennsylvania, who agreed to allow him enter Huntingdon State Correctional Institution without the knowledge of anyone else at the prison.

“I was in a maximum security penitentiary for murder,” Bagdikian wrote in The Post on Jan. 31, 1972. “But I hadn’t killed anyone. No one at the prison – warden, guards, inmates – knew that. All they knew was that one night, two state policemen delivered me in handcuffs as a ‘transfer’ from a distant county jail.”

Bagdikian spent six days in the prison. He was removed after one inmate began to suspect something unusual about him and pointedly asked, “You here for your health?”

In his story, Bagdikian described widespread racial animosity behind bars, outbursts of violence, open “homosexualism” and an elaborate, yet fragile “code of etiquette.”

“You enjoy the trust of others but at the same time fear it,” he wrote. “Everyone is trapped together and each man has the power to harm the others.”

Bagdikian and Post reporter Leon Dash later expanded their eight-part series into a book, “The Shame of the Prisons.”

“”I’ve got to hand it to you, buddy,” Bradlee told Bagdikian after the series. “You’ve got” an earthy term of praise for his courage.

As early as 1957, Bagdikian had called for newspapers to hire an in-house critic, or ombudsman, to address public concerns about journalistic practices. He became The Post’s second ombudsman in 1972. As a conduit of outside and internal complaints, he began to clash with Bradlee, and after several months Bagdikian left The Post.

He held a post at American University, wrote widely on media issues, then joined the faculty of the University of California at Berkeley in 1976. He ultimately became dean of its Graduate School of Journalism.

In 1983, he published “The Media Monopoly,” a study of the growing concentration of news outlets in the hands of a few large conglomerates. The book was recognized as a major work of media criticism and helped inspire a variety of watchdog groups and reform efforts.

“As a media critic,” Fordham University professor Arthur S. Hayes wrote in the 2008 book “Press Critics Are the Fifth Estate,” “Bagdikian has been farsighted, inspirational, influential, long lasting, and a forerunner.”

Ben-Hur Haig Bagdikian was born Jan. 30, 1920, in a town then known as Marash in present-day Turkey. His Armenian family fled the country to avoid persecution when Bagdikian was an infant. He was dropped in the snow and was feared dead until he began to cry.

The family settled in Stoneham, Massachusetts, where his father became an Armenian Congregationalist pastor.

After graduating from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1941, Bagdikian began his newspaper career in Springfield, Massachusetts. He was an Army Air Forces officer during World War II before joining the Providence Journal in 1947.

He was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 1953 for coverage of a bank robbery and also served as a Washington reporter and foreign correspondent.

Early in his career, Bagdikian became preoccupied with media ethics and began to write critical essays about journalism. He won a Peabody Award in 1951 for articles analyzing the content of commentators such as Drew Pearson and Walter Winchell.

In the 1960s, Bagdikian was a Washington-based correspondent for the weekly Saturday Evening Post. He published his first book, about poverty in America, in 1964. From 1967 to 1969, he directed a media study at the RAND Corp. in California, where he met Ellsberg. He joined The Post in 1970.

Bagdikian retired from the University of California in 1990 but remained an active voice in media issues for more than 20 years afterward. His book “The Media Monopoly” was republished in 2004 as “The New Media Monopoly.”

His marriages to Elizabeth Ogasapian and former Post reporter Betty Medsger ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife of 32 years, Marlene Griffith Bagdikian of Berkeley; and a son from his first marriage, Eric Bagdikian of Longment, Colorado. Another son from his first marriage, Christopher Bagdikian, died in 2015.

Bagdikian published a memoir, “Double Vision: Reflections on My Heritage, Life, and Profession,” in 1995. He wrote about his life as an outsider, beginning with his birth in Turkey, and about the difficulties and joys of gathering the news.

“If I were choosing my life work all over again, would I be a reporter?” he asked in his memoir. “You bet I would.”

By Matt Schudel, The Washington Post




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