55.3 F
Fort Worth
Wednesday, December 2, 2020
Opinion Richard Connor: 'The Post' is more than a newspaper movie; it's a...

Richard Connor: ‘The Post’ is more than a newspaper movie; it’s a study in decision-making

Other News

Commentary: TCC Chancellor Eugene Giovannini: Maintaining Our Mission

Since our inception, one of Tarrant County College’s hallmarks has been our unwavering commitment to serving our community. As we all work to navigate...

Commentary: M. Ray Perryman: The Fed is taking largely unseen but essential action

The inevitable and unavoidable result of the extraordinary measures taken to curb the tragic health effects of the coronavirus has been a strong shock...

Commentary: Rising to the Challenge: Coronavirus Spurs Sacrifice and Generosity in Time of Need

These are difficult days. We’re frightened by the havoc COVID-19 may wreak on our families, friends, local businesses and the simple pleasures of life...

Analysis: Notes from a coronavirus hot spot

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New Orleans is right outside my door. But I can't go out. Not much, anyway. My wife and I are...
Richard Connor
Richard Connor is the owner and CEO/Publisher of DRC Media, the parent company of the Fort Worth Business Press. he also owns newspapers in Virginia. Mr. Connor held a number of corporate media executive positions before founding his own company. He is an award-winning columnist and at one time wrote a weekly column on national politics for CQ Politics, the online version of Washington, D.C.-based Congressional Quarterly.

There is a terrific movie in theaters these days. It’s called The Post.

Most folks believe it’s about The Washington Post and its reporting on the Pentagon Papers – news coverage that exposed deceit, misrepresentation and outright lying about the Vietnam War through four presidential administrations.

But that’s not the heart of the movie.

It’s a movie about business, about women in business, and about the difficult decisions that come with the territory of being the key decision-maker at a business. I recommend it as a case study for business people.

Katharine Graham, the Post’s longtime owner and publisher, is at the center of the story. For me, the story resonates in its portrayal of the isolation that can come with being a newspaper publisher.

Newspaper publishers often can get caught between powerful people who are their friends, including politicians at all levels, and the paper’s newsroom. The news folks are the fulcrum of our business. Hovering over most of a publisher’s decisions is the First Amendment, along with its cousin, the public’s right to know.

On certain days, a newspaper publisher can alienate virtually all of his or her constituents.

As I said, isolating.

I knew Mrs. Graham and had occasion to dine with her a time or two. My good friend, the late Russell Wiggins, was editor of the Post before Ben Bradlee, and he retired to Maine to own and run the best weekly newspaper in this country, The Ellsworth American. In Bradlee’s autobiography he said that Mrs. Graham told him there was only one editor she loved: Russ Wiggins.

What struck me about Mrs. Graham – and later her son Don, who succeeded her as publisher – was her extraordinary loyalty to Wiggins. She donated money to the local YMCA in Ellsworth when it was named for him. And on a nasty New England night not fit for flying she flew to the tiny town of Ellsworth for the naming ceremony and a small dinner afterward.

Her kindness, intelligence, courage and loyalty permeate the film’s message.

Mrs. Graham’s father, Eugene Meyer, turned the Post over to her husband, Phil, which turns out to have been a condescending insult to her. But perhaps his decision was more a product of the times than the deliberate thought that a woman, particularly that woman, could not run a business.

Phil Graham was apparently brilliant but suffered from depression and in 1963, at the age of 48, he killed himself with a 28-gauge shotgun.

Katharine Graham took over – and run the business she could, ultimately taking the company public, facing down a near-crippling strike by the pressmen’s union and then risking it all and perhaps jail time for publishing the now infamous Pentagon Papers, a cache of documents that exposed the deception of government officials who sent young men to die in a war our presidents knew could not be won.

On top of it all, members of these four administrations constantly lied to the American people – probably none more that Robert McNamara, the former auto company executive who served as secretary of defense under Presidents John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson,

McNamara was a close personal friend and confidant of Mrs. Graham and when she gave the OK to publish the Pentagon Papers she was unmasking him as a liar.

There is inspiration for journalists in the movie because in this world of often mindless immediacy and fluff in the media, The Post reminds us of our duty to investigate and report on government so that the public is served.

The movie devotes plenty of time and attention to the workings of journalism but The Post is more than a “newspaper movie” – it is the story of Katharine Graham, a woman in a man’s world, a story that shines a light on the courage and resolve needed to make difficult, sometimes risky, business decisions.

One of my favorite stories of my business career comes from the early days of buying the Business Press. We had a terrific editor, Steve Roth, and when I told him I was hiring a publisher to run the paper he said something like, “That’s fine with me. We have had several and quite frankly we’ve never understood what a publisher does.”

It was funny and I appreciated the sarcasm and doubt. It’s a job that is not easily described and often is done poorly.

This movie about Katharine Graham reveals the tightrope a publisher sometimes has to walk – and shows how it can be walked extremely well.

Richard Connor is president and publisher of the Fort Worth Business Press. Contact him at rconnor@bizpress.net


close






Oh hi there 👋
It’s nice to meet you.

Sign up to receive awesome content in your inbox.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Latest News

🔒 Bill Thompson: Trump is going, going, gone … but the haters can’t let go

Still nibbling leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner? That holiday turkey is getting a little gamey, isn’t it? Well, don’t feel bad. The mainstream news media are...

🔒 Robert Francis: The straight-shooting Miss TCU

Not sure when I first met Susan Nix. When I first started at the Fort Worth Business Press, she was one of those people...

Q&A with Jaime Cobb/James L. West Center Vice President of Caregiver & Community Education

FWBP: Now that visiting restrictions are changing in long-term care, what do family members need to know? Jaime Cobb: Long-term care is still learning what...

Commentary: When to donate rewards to charity and when to give cash

By ERIN HURD of NerdWalletIf you're looking to give to charity this holiday season but don't want to dip into your bank account, donating...

Commentary: Area mayors say ‘Spread cheer this holiday season, not COVID-19’

Mayors of several cities in Tarrant County released the following message: As we enter the holiday season, it’s becoming all too apparent that this year...