David Broder, R.I.P.

I was saddened to read of the death of David Broder, the Washington Post reporter and columnist.  Broder, who was 81, died today after a long and distinguished career that included receiving the Pulitzer Prize.

When I was a student at the Ohio State University School of Journalism, Broder was one of my journalistic heroes, and I am confident that my classmates shared that view.  He seemed like a walking, talking, embodiment of everything that a journalist should be — sober, careful, measured, scrupulous about sourcing, fair, and balanced (before “fair and balanced” became a catch phrase).  Broder had a knack for seeming to be above the fray.  He was not partisan, and he did not take cheap shots.  And his writing was clear and straightforward.

It’s been a while since I’ve read a David Broder column.  His work fell out of favor as journalists moved to a more advocacy-oriented, point-of-view approach, to the point where it seems that print journalists are vying to be featured as TV talking heads who are clearly defined as liberal or conservative.  It’s too bad, because David Broder’s thoughtful pieces definitely had a place in world of journalism, regardless of whether you agreed with his conclusions or not.  Political junkies who are interested in an even-handed evaluation of an issue, and citizens who are interested in more civil discourse, are all poorer for his passing.