Monday, January 09, 2006

Murder of One of Its Reporting Titans Fails to Get New York Times Riled Up

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.
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/09/national/09rosenbaum.html.
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.
http://poynter.org/forum/view_post.asp?id=10872
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.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

http://www.rcfp.org/news/releases/20060109-statemento.html

PRESS RELEASE: The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- Contact: Lucy Dalglish, (703) 807-2100

Statement of Appreciation for the many years of service of New York Times reporter and editor David Rosenbaum
Jan. 9, 2006


The following statement was released Monday by Lucy A. Dalglish, executive director, and Scott Applewhite, chairman of the executive committee and an Associated Press photographer:

The steering committee and staff of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press are shocked and saddened by the tragic death of long-time steering committee member David Rosenbaum.

David, who was elected to the steering committee in January 1978, was one of our longest serving board members. He also served as chairman of the steering committee twice - in 1989 and 1998.

On December 22, 2005, David told us that he would be stepping down from his steering committee seat when he "retired" from the Times at the end of 2005. But, he said, "I remain intensely interested in the work of the Reporters Committee and may be free now to work on some of your projects if you need me." We knew we would miss David as a steering committee member, but looked forward to working with him even more often as a volunteer as he and his wife, Ginny, enjoyed retirement.

David and Ginny have been uncommonly generous with their time and financial support for almost 30 years. David offered wise, and frequently frank, counsel on projects and initiatives at the Reporters Committee. America's journalists are grateful to David for his leadership in protecting the First Amendment and the public's right to know about the important workings of government and business.

We offer our condolences to Ginny, and the Rosenbaum children, Dorothy and Daniel.

The Reporters Committee is a non-profit organization that has provided free legal assistance to journalists since 1970.

Elizabeth Manus said...

Glad you wrote something about the Times obituary. I started reading it and then had to put it down. When it comes to remembering their own, maybe the Times should take a cue from the New Yorker.

Sharoney said...

It's disgraceful--but altogether typical--that the Times devoted more staff time and column inches on the departures of phony reporter Jayson Blair and self-serving reporter Judith "Fucking" Miller than it did on a real pro who had worked faithfully and without fanfare (or, apparently, the kind of personal coddling and favors from upper management awarded to Miller and Blair) for so long.

Such are the rewards for working at a "world-class" paper. Classless is more like it.

Frank said...

One more example of how my once-beloved Times has gone so downhill. Thanks for reporting this, and for your justifiable outrage.

And being a reporter-editor myself, I do urge you to correct both a typo and a grammatical that's all the more egregious given the subject matter, the ease of the spelling, the evident over-reliance on spell-check software and the irony of the phrase itself:

"...were cribbed by many a reporter to dim or lazy to do their own legwork." Besides "to/too" error, you yourself were too dim or lazy (just kidding) to make proper noun-pronoun agreement. Phrase should be "by many reporters too dim or lazy to do their own legwork" or "by many a reporter too dim or lazy to do his or her legwork."

Please don't get pissed off at me. If you're going to write about journalism for journalists and other educated people, you really have to use proper One more example of how my once-beloved Times has gone so downhill. Thanks for reporting this, and for your justifiable outrage.

And being a reporter-editor myself, I do urge you to correct both a typo and a grammatical that's all the more egregious given the subject matter, the ease of the spelling, the evident over-reliance on spell-check software and the irony of the phrase itself:

"...were cribbed by many a reporter to dim or lazy to do their own legwork." Besides "to/too" error, you yourself were too dim or lazy (just kidding) to make proper noun-pronoun agreement. Phrase should be "by many reporters too dim or lazy to do their own legwork" or "by many a reporter too dim or lazy to do his or her legwork."

Please don't get pissed off at me. If you're going to write about journalism for journalists and other educated people, you really have to use proper grammar and spelling.

Frank said...

Sorry for the duplication in the post above. I was writing in a Word doc and evidently hit control-V twice when I copied text into the box. Mea culpa. Like the Times says over and over, we regret the error!

Anonymous said...

Frank, I don't think you needed to qualify ("don't get pissed") pointing out typos or grammatical errors. Even veteran journalists can make errors. Simply point out the mistakes (perhaps with more brevity in the future?) so they can be corrected and readers can stay focused on the post's content. I'm sure it's appreciated. B.L.

Steve Gosset said...

Frank: No worries. Always happy to be accountable for my own mistakes, especially when I make a habit of pointing out those made by others. Thanks for reading.

Vox Populi said...

I found the death of David Rosenbaum, especially the manner of same and then the serial ignorance by the Buxh-controlled media HIGHLY suspicious.
I believe that those involved in Mr. Rosenbaum's death are guilty of a much larger conspiracy than mindless murder, simple robbery and intimidation.
WHY would that guy turn himself in if he was not assured of protection?
Was he a maintenance worker for the city? I would put money on THAT. But, even if I'm wrong about that I DO KNOW that just like the Tampa Fire Dept the Washington DC Fire DEPT in the Metro area stalked me on my last visit to DC. This may sound crazy but I DO have this activity on video tape. I don't talk about it unless I can prove it. David Rosenbaum's death was purposeful, planned and then aided by each person who encountered him from and including the blows to his head until his eyes closed for the final time. It's very obvious.
David Habersham....

Vox Populi said...

Said stalking would lay waste to anything any of the Metro firefighters involved in stalking had to say. Ergo -- the sad and unnecessary death of Mr.Rosenbaum.