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Bartley Encouraged Young Journalists

Author: Max Boot, Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow for National Security Studies
December 14, 2003
Wall Street Journal

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There have been many well-deserved tributes to Bob Bartley, the Journal's late, great editor, that have focused on his considerable legacy to journalism and public policy. One of his lesser-known achievements was the aid and encouragement he gave to young journalists.

I speak from personal experience since Bob hired me at the Journal editorial page in 1994 when I was just 24 years old. At the time I'd had less than two years' experience working at the Christian Science Monitor -- and that had been the only job I was able to secure out of graduate school. When I applied to other newspapers such as the Hartford Courant and the New Haven Register, they invariably told me to come back and see them when I had at least five years' experience. Hearing that, I despaired of ever working on a major daily, much less at the leading editorial page in the country. Yet Bob hired me and promoted me, until, at the tender age of 27, I was his editorial features editor, responsible for the signed articles running alongside the unsigned editorials.

I hasten to add that this was no particular tribute to my own abilities since Bob hired and nurtured many other fledgling writers and editors, some of whom started at the page even younger than I did. Some of them have left the Journal to accept prestigious posts elsewhere. To give only a partial list: David Brooks is a columnist for the New York Times, Bret Stephens is editor of the Jerusalem Post, Tim Ferguson is editor of Forbes Global, David Frum is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, David Asman is an anchor at Fox News Channel, Amity Shlaes is a columnist for the Financial Times. Others -- such as senior editorial writers Rob Pollock, Jason Riley and Kim Strassel -- continue to do splendid work at the Journal editorial page. Some of the most senior people at the editorial page, including Editor Paul Gigot and Associate Editor Melanie Kirkpatrick, were also given great responsibilities by Bob at an age when most other newspapers would have had them "paying their dues."

I can't speak for any of the others, but I found the Journal editorial page an invigorating place to work, and I am deeply grateful to Bob for giving me the opportunity to learn from his example.


Max Boot is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of "The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power" (Basic Books, 2003).

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