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David Halberstam, 1934-2007

 

[San Jose Mercury News article: Author David Halberstam killed in crash near Dumbarton Bridge]

 

This is terribly upsetting and so full of bitter irony.

Two days ago I heard him speak eloquently at U.C. Berkeley Journalism School about how at age 73 he's not even thinking about retiring because he loves writing so much. He just finished the galleys for his Korean War book and had a contract for two more. Halberstam recognized what a privilege it was to have attained the recognition from peers and the ability just to write books for a living.

But he also indicated that it was much, much more than a job. From covering the civil rights movement in the South in ways that most other reporters wouldn't or couldn't, to upending a nation's misconceptions about how the Vietnam War started, Halberstam was a guiding light for a profession now so commonly associated with shallow celebrity trash and flash -- or worse.

It takes public intellectuals like Halberstam, who have seen war first hand, to give weight to assessments that, for example, the conflict in Iraq is potentially "cataclysmic." Judging by the number of young people in the audience Saturday night, though, I'd say he succeeded at passing on the passion for truthfulness and thoughtfulness to at least two more generations.

-- Michael Stoll

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Monitoring the Bay Area's most popular news media:

Contra Costa Times

Knight Ridder

San Francisco Chronicle

Hearst

San Jose Mercury News

Knight Ridder

KTVU, Oakland (FOX)

KTVU, Oakland (FOX)

KRON, San Francisco

KRON, San Francisco

KPIX, San Francisco (CBS)

KPIX, San Francisco (CBS)

KGO, San Francisco (ABC)

KGO, San Francisco (ABC)

KNTV, San Jose (NBC)

KNTV, San Jose (NBC)

 

Bay Area media advocates:

Media Alliance
Center for the Integration and Improvement of Journalism at SFSU
Maynard Institute
Youth Media Council
Project Censored
New California Media
Society of Professional Journalists, Northern California chapter
National Writers Union Bay Area chapter

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