This is less about the Hamptons as it is about a phone call I received yesterday from a woman who obviously believes in the power of the press, so to speak.
Since this lady knew that I am the editor of the Press’s Residence section, she called to ask me a bunch of complex legal problems about real estate. Though I was flattered by her faith in my expertise, I had to tell her that I, in fact, do not practice real estate law and that she would be wise to consult an attorney.
I get similar calls once a week or so. The topics range from arts and antiquities to “who so and so’s neighbor is.” Sometimes I can help, other times I can refer to someone more knowledgeable, and on days like yesterday I try to at least compassionately listen.
On rare bad days, there are calls or emails from someone (who has not the first idea about working for a newspaper or reporting) telling me how I should do my job. Oh boy, that’s a real treat! My response–in my head only, natch–is a favorite line of mine from comedian Kathy Griffin, which is best unsaid and unprinted.
A big part of a journalist’s job really is becoming expert on a variety of beats. This constant and ongoing learning process is a big part of why I love my job so much. Another perk, at least in my position, is to meet some of the smartest, most successful, interesting and creative people in the world. People who wrote the books and plays that we have all read, who inked the lyrics to that song we all know, who starred in the Best Oscar Picture last year, or whose work literally changed the world as we know it.
The list I could write surprises and humbles me.
One of those people is Ben Bradlee, who was gracious enough to invite me to his home, Grey Gardens, this past summer. The attached picture is not the best photo of me, or of him, but regardless it’s something I will treasure forever.
Hats off to journalism!