Tip of the editorial cap to a Kansan who has achieved rock-star status in journalism. She’d probably cringe at that, as she should. But it’s true enough.
Her name is Sally Buzbee. She grew up in Olathe and went to KU. She started her professional career in the biz at the Associated Press bureau in Topeka, covering the state Legislature, almost certainly writing dozens of stories that appeared in this newspaper. She moved on to the Kansas City bureau of the AP, which is responsible for the wire-service’s coverage in Missouri and Kansas.
I say “almost certainly” because most wire-service stories run without a byline. But in those days in the late 1980s, we ran a lot of AP material, particularly related to the Legislature. We are, after all, very much a state-government town. The chance that her work appeared with some regularity in The Mercury is practically 100 percent.
I say all this because she was just named the new executive editor of the Washington Post. That’s probably the highest-profile job in journalism. She’s the successor to Marty Baron — the guy who’s essentially the star of the movie “Spotlight.”
Mr. Baron has also guided the Post’s newsroom very effectively in tough times; it’s worth noting that the newspaper is now owned by Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, and so it has resources that most of the rest of us don’t have.
Ms. Buzbee is also the successor to Ben Bradlee, the legendary Post editor played by Jason Robards in “All the President’s Men.” If you had to make a stock newspaper editor character, he’d be it. As a journalist, he and Woodward and Bernstein — the guys who really uncovered Watergate — are the heroes many of us in our generation grew up wanting to be.
Ms. Buzbee has been the Washington bureau chief of the Associated Press, a position of real significance in this industry, and in the country. She comes to the Post knowing what she’s doing, in a position to do great things.
I did not personally cross paths with Ms. Buzbee. She worked at the AP in Kansas City just a couple years before I did. But we know many of the same people, and so I feel a kinship for her. Her father-in-law, Dick Buzbee, was the editor of the Hutchinson News and the Olathe Daily News, which is now kaput.
She’s a Kansan, and so we’re rightfully proud of her. As I said, she’d cringe at all this — good journalists don’t want to be rock stars, and they don’t want the story to be about them. They want the story to be the story, and that’s as it should be.
But just for a moment, let’s have a moment of state pride.