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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 10/ 6/2008

The Riff: Appreciating a Great Post Journalist

By Michael Cavna

Gather 'round, friends. There's plenty of room in the back, near the water cooler and the wall o' Pulitzers.

It is time now to take a moment to pay our respects to one of The Washington Post's most famous and fearless reporters. In his 30-plus years at The Post, he has broken big stories about the Redskins and D.C.'s homeless. He has juggled White House press conferences and birthing classes. And he has done it all while bearing a name that sounds conspicuously like "Robert Redford" and wearing a beard reminiscent of journo Richard Cohen's.

He is Rick Redfern, and as of this past Saturday's "Doonesbury," he has taken a Post buyout and -- like many of his real-life counterparts -- isn't quite sure what his professional life now holds.

End of an eloquent era. (UPS) Enlarge Comic

As Garry Trudeau told Comic Riffs last month, newspaper layoffs, buyouts and space-crunches have been on his mind a lot lately. And so Redfern, the inkstained wretch who stands tall for all print journalists everywhere, goes quietly into that good night. And it is not insignificant that TV correspondent Roland Hedley is still around to report on Redfern's symbolic "demise" -- before quickly jumping on to the next news cycle -- and that radio jock Mark Slackmeyer is still around this week to "report" on a John McCain story.

Redfern, we realize, is not mere character. In Trudeau's world, he seems a workingman symbol for an entire industry.

So there is no raging against the dying of the computer light. Redfern leaves with utter resignation, apparently having reasoned that he has no real newsroom options.

Will Redfern blog one day soon? We would welcome the company. We have met the other Post idols of our adolescence, including Ben Bradlee and Bob Woodward. Perhaps one day, in the manner of a good Irish wake, we will get the chance to buy Redfern a whiskey and a Guinness.

Raise a glass, friends, and toast a legendary Post career. Thanks for the 30-plus years, Rick. By the fourth panel -- in the style of a true newspaperman -- you always had the perfect line.

By Michael Cavna  | October 6, 2008; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  The Riffs  
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Sheesh! The newspaper industry needs to get over it. I've been in the computer industry for almost 30 years and cost-cutting has been a constant. No US employer owes you anything beyond the compensation you both agreed to beforehand.

I was given a "package" and all it did was raise my taxes for one year. I got another job in the industry. I believe "Rick" can find another job. There's still a place for knowledge and experience. It's not rocket science. Life goes on.

Posted by: MSchafer | October 6, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Seems the results are in, the most electable republican ticket would be Huckabee/Palin, not McCain/Palin this is according to a new poll at nearly 4 to 1 people would preffer Huckabee/Palin over McCain/Palin. Ha The RNC got it way wrong this time.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2008 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Hey, anon, thanks for spamming, we really appreciate it. You've now been in every single Post blog, well done.

Rick will blog, no doubt.

Posted by: JkR | October 6, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

See Actor Jon Voight, Go nuts on Obama. Assuses him of all kinds of stuff. He was on fox last night, He went into a rant

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2008 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Having been downsized in the newspaper business myself, at age 55, I know exactly where Rick is. There is not always a market for knowledge & experience because the news business now is about paying entry level wages regardless. After only 6 months on unemployment, I was lucky enough to land a similar job out of the news business. Similar pay, better hours, better bosses. Hope Rick is as lucky, but I don't hold my breath in this economy. I was pushed out of the plane 3 years ago, in relatively smoother air.

Posted by: E. Washington | October 6, 2008 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Trudeau's great strength has always been his willingness to keep his characters evolving, even when he ends up killing them like Lacey, Dick and Andy. And you care about them at the same time -- poor Rick! Doonesbury's going to be one of the great strips of the 20th century.

Posted by: Mike Rhode | October 7, 2008 9:20 AM | Report abuse

I am going to miss Rick at press conferences; he is one of my fav. Doonesbury characters!

Posted by: Hallie | October 7, 2008 10:43 PM | Report abuse

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