UPDATED 3 P.M. ET
David Rosenbaum's Killing Duly Noted, Little Else
We've mentioned before how The New York Times is content to give the death of one of its journalists a perfunctory mention on the obit page when other publications tend to give longer, flowing tributes to departed colleagues and take some measure of the person as well as his work.
The death from injuries suffered in a fatal mugging of veteran Washington hand David Rosenbaum shows how wrong-headed, even callous, that treatment can be.
Besides the fact that Rosenbaum toiled for more than 35 years for the Times, he, quite simply, was one of the best at what he did, breaking down the arcana, jargon, minutia and absurdities of the bureaucracy and making it understandable to the rest of us. He did it, so we didn't have to.
It's a safe bet that his explanations of such things as the tax code, Social Security, and the budget were cribbed by many a reporter too dim or lazy to do their own legwork.
Yet, the Times pretty much gave Rosenbaum a standard obit penned by Todd Purdum, although it did actually include a recently gathered quote from former CBO head Robert Reischauer.
Still, it includes but one paragraph on how Rosenbaum was brutally mugged in what is supposed to be a very safe Northwest D.C. neighborhood and died from the head injuries. Nothing on the investigation of the killing. That was left to the Washington Post.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/08/AR2006010801179_pf.html, which also had a heartfelt quote from Times Washington bureau chief Phil Taubman.
As is shamefully typical of the Times, such a tribute never made it into its pages, even though Rosenbaum's work was for so long a vital cog to its inside-the-Beltway coverage. Instead, it was left to Jim Romenesko's blog to publish Taubman's memo to the staff about Rosenbaum's death.
Wrote Taubman: "David didn't just cover the budget, or Social Security, or taxes or any of the other issues he tracked. He studied them and mastered them. And he was passionate about them."
Were only the Times able to stoke a little passion into its obits for one of their own.
And while we're at it, perhaps the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press, where Rosenbaum served on the steering committee for more than a quarter-century, could also take time on its Web site to say thanks and farewell.
UPDATED 3:00 p.m. ET:
A release from the committee expressing its condolences is available by clicking on the comment link just below.