First Among Equals

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Bob Schieffer, an old-school journalist who has managed to remain relevant as the new schools have built their high-tech campuses on the Internet and elsewhere, was tapped this week to receive the Leonard Zeidenberg First Amendment award from the Radio-Television News Directors Foundation

As Len’s former co-worker and sometimes editor, I can say with confidence he would have thoroughly approved of the choice.

Zeidenberg was old school himself and cut quite a swath with his trademark trench coat and silver-white hair.

I can still see the picture we selected for his obit–can it be more than 15 years ago–in profile, fingers poised above the typewriter, which he pounded almost as hard as he did the pavement to get a story. He would disappear for hours then return and start cranking out copy by the yard, clean and densely packed with information. And when it was too packed to fit in the alloted space and a young editor still wet behind the eyeshades approached, tentatively, deferentially, with the observation that he had told Len no more than 40 inches and he had written 70, Len took the news with grace, then returned to his current opus.

He could write more, better, and better sourced than reporter I have ever known, and I have known a lot of reporters.

Len loved being first, and being right, oh, and tennis. And he played a mean and serious game of touch football. One time, when he must have been pushing 60, he broke his collarbone in a game on the national mall, leaping for and catching a perfectly thrown touchdown pass from a quarterback who shall remain nameless.

But I affectionately digress.

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