Academic journal article Journalism History

Double Vision: Reflections on My Heritage, Life, and Profession

Academic journal article Journalism History

Double Vision: Reflections on My Heritage, Life, and Profession

Article excerpt

Bagdikian, Ben H. Double Vision: Reflections on My Heritage, Life, and Profession. Boston: Beacon Press, 1995. 241 pp. $24.

Ben Bagdikian will be remembered most for his pioneering, truth-telling book about media economics, The Media Monopoly. Yet, beyond the obligatory mention on the book jacket, that book is noticeably absent from these memoirs. It is as if Babe Ruth wrote of his life but decided to leave out his years with the New York Yankees.

Like Ruth, Bagdikian could make this major omission and still have plenty of interesting things upon which to reflect. He begins with a two-chapter recitation of his role in the Washington Post's 1971 publication of the Pentagon Papers. And later there is a recounting of Bagdikian in Little Rock, Arkansas, at one of the flashpoints of the Civil Rights movement.

These are nice things to read about and are sure to fill in some gaps in our knowledge of both events, but they are not what Bagdikian's main interest in this book. Instead, Double Vision lays before us the formative experiences that created the personal vision Bagdikian says always has operated in concert with his journalistically developed "objective" vision.

His preacher father, who taught him much but with whom he often disagreed, is but one of many Armenian relatives and neighbors Bagdikian remembers with affectionate detail. He is haunted by his failed efforts to remember his mother, who died when he was three years old. But by far the most moving episodes in the book are based not on Bagdikian's recollections but rather on memoirs written by his older sister, Lydia, about the family's dangerous and narrow escape from genocide in the mountains of Turkey. Bagdikian, who was an infant when this trek took place, writes that he has no direct recollection of it. …

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