The Great Man of the Gray Lady


Abe Rosenthal, the former executive editor of the New York Times who completely transformed the paper during his tenure, died last night. This may not seem like a big deal, but to we ink-stained wretches in the business of quick-turnaround journalism "“ to repurpose an old joke "“ the only difference between God and the e.e. of the Times is that God takes the seventh day off. I'm not going to repeat all the laurels and crusty old anecdotes heaped on him in the obituaries; I'm sure, as an editor, he'd find the redundancy annoying. (Obviously, the Times has the best obit, and its charming staff bio is also worth reading). But, by way of illustrating how ridiculously long this man's career was "“ and all of it, by the way, was at the Times "“ I'll point out that in 1944, the year he started as a cub reporter:

- The Times was short-staffed because many of its would-be writers were off fighting World War II.

- Dewey, of "Dewey Defeats Truman" fame, failed to defeat FDR's unprecedented bid for a fourth term.

- Iceland was still a colony of Denmark. (It declared independence on June 17, 1944.)

- The hot new cultural icons were Smokey the Bear and two crazy kids named Ozzie and Harriet.

- IBM introduced a fancy new computing device: the "Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator."

The times (not to mention the Times), they are a changin'. RIP, Abe.