The Riff: Appreciating a Great Post Journalist
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.
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.
| October 6, 2008; 11:00 AM ET
Categories: The Riffs
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