Peter Bergen Set to Tackle Bin Laden, Al-Qaeda and Trump at Our December 15 Zoom Meeting

How much damage did Donald Trump and his generals do to our national security? What’s the real story behind the pursuit and killing of Osama Bin Laden? Is Al-Qaeda regaining strength for new attacks on the West from hideouts in the Taliban’s Afghanistan?

Peter Bergen

For our December speaker, the Silurians Press Club will host a man who knows the answers to these questions better than most. Peter Bergen is a journalist, author, documentary producer and Vice President at New America. He is also a professor at Arizona State University, a fellow at Fordham University’s Center on National Security and CNN’s national security analyst. He has held teaching positions at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

Peter is also a compelling writer and author of a series of books on the threat to the U.S. from global terrorism. His latest is The Rise and Fall of Osama bin Laden, which The Times describes as a page-turner that not only puts flesh on the terrorist icon but chronicles “the missed opportunities, ignored warnings and strategic blunders of the United States” that led up to 9/11. Bergen’s The Longest War takes us from that tragic day through the equally tragic war in Afghanistan that just ended in U.S. humiliation.

So tune in to Zoom on Dec. 15 at noon for our talk with Peter. And get ready to resume Silurian lunches and dinners, which we will launch February 4 with a gala celebrating the work of Times photographer Chester Higgins.

We Enter the Fire and Fury of Michael Wolff’s World in Our November 17 Zoom Meeting

Michael Wolff, a magnet for splashy controversy, is the best-selling author, hard-hitting Trump biographer, prolific columnist and winner of two National Magazine Awards who will be our speaker at the November 17 Zoom meeting.

Michael Wolff

One of Wolff’s earliest books, Burn Rate, described how his own start-up company, Wolff New Media, crashed and burned. In 2007, he wrote about the inner workings of Rupert Murdoch’s empire in The Man Who Owns the News. His first book about Donald Trump, Fire and Fury, lit up the media skies with tales of chaos and infighting in the White House. It became a No. 1 best-seller. In Siege: Trump Under Fire, released in 2019, Wolff asserted that prosecutor Robert Mueller drafted an indictment of Trump, but never went ahead with it. His most recent Trump book is Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency, published in 2021. It was followed by Too Famous, a collection of his articles about such figures as Harvey Weinstein, Ronan Farrow and Jeffrey Epstein.

Though he has sometimes been accused of embellishing quotes and bending facts, he has always denied it. In a recent New York Times column, media columnist Ben Smith gave him a wry thumbs-up: “I have found Mr. Wolff to be annoyingly accurate on big-picture questions ranging from the enduring strength of the television business to the secret motives of moguls.”

Clearly, our talk with Michael Wolff will be informative and entertaining.

ALSO: We are looking for new members, so consider joining if you are not a Silurian or recommend a membership (only $60) to your friends and colleagues. We have one more Zoom meeting in December and then an in-person Lifetime Achievement dinner scheduled for Feb. 4. Fill out an application on this Website.

The Tale of Merriman “Smitty” Smith, Known as “the Greatest Wire Reporter Ever,” as Told by Bill Sanderson at the October 20 Meeting

Bill Sanderson

At an urgent pace, Bill Sanderson recounted the tale of how reporter Merriman “Smitty” Smith got the news that President John F. Kennedy had been shot onto the UPI wire in only 4 minutes, much faster than anyone else

Changes in the “speed of news” was one transformation Sanderson addressed in his study of the fateful day in 1963 when President Kennedy was assassinated, he told Silurians at the October 20 Zoom meeting. “Today we’ve gone down from 4 minutes to 0,” Sanderson said. Another big change, he said, is that newspapers are no longer the dominant way people learn about the news. Smart reporters and editors are still necessary, however, added Sanderson, who has been a reporter for the New York Post and is now a writer and editor at the Daily News. In 2016, he wrote a book, “Bulletins from Dallas,” about the events surrounding those shots that Lee Harvey Oswald fired into the young President’s limousine.

Smitty, who had been the UPI’s White House correspondent since 1941, sat in the front seat of the pool car in the motorcade that followed JFK’s car. He was sandwiched between the driver and a presidential press agent. That put Smith on top of the car’s radio telephone, a then-new device that was meant to be shared by all four reporters in the car. As it happened, the AP reporter—the AP being Smith’s main rival—sat in the back. He wasn’t the usual White House correspondent (who was on the press bus) but a different reporter who was there to collect “color” for his own piece.

When the passengers heard shots fired, Smitty grabbed the phone, called his office and wouldn’t let go. The AP reporter cursed him, punched him, hit him and pummeled him, but Smith wouldn’t hand it over until the press car, a few cars behind the limo, stopped in front of the Parkland Hospital. Smith jumped out, dumping the phone on his way. When the AP reporter grabbed it, he found the line dead. Some thought Smith had sabotaged it somehow, but UPI always denied it, and the mystery was never solved, Sanderson said in his breathless narrative.

Before President Kennedy and Texas Governor John Connally, who had been seriously wounded, were even wheeled into the hospital, Smith jumped on the running board of their limo and witnessed the blood surrounding both men. Smith then hopped on the side of the next car in the motorcade and spoke with a secret service agent he knew, who told him the President was dead. Smith ran into the hospital, commandeered a phone in the emergency room and called in updates to his story as it unfurled.

The first AP dispatch, which came in five minutes later than UPI’s, came from a photographer who had been close to the action. The AP story was also garbled and contained several errors, Sanderson said.

Smith was known as a “reporter’s reporter, who went all out to get his story” and is often ranked as “the greatest wire reporter ever.” He won a Pulitzer Prize for the swift and full coverage that he wrote the next day.

Many people remember first hearing the news of the President’s death from Walter Cronkite on TV, Silurian vice-president Joseph Berger pointed out during the Q and A. But Cronkite was relying initially on Smith’s account, Sanderson said—and that came later: It took about half an hour for studio cameras to warm up in those days, and at first Cronkite was only heard but not seen.

Asked about persistent ideas that Oswald was not the lone shooter, Sanderson replied, “Merriman Smith resolutely hated the conspiracy theories.” Smith would say that he was there and “I know what happened.”

Theater Maven Michael Riedel Shares Inside Info, Celeb Anecdotes and Broadway Predictions at September Meeting

Michael Riedel, who has long written about theater for the New York Post and other publications, spoke to us at our September 22 Zoom meeting just as Broadway was starting to open up again after a long Covid-induced hiatus. The presentation, attended by more than 50 people (and available here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hv2gVaBsSds) was snappy, spirited and fun.

Riedel had recently visited the new musical “Six,” a pop-rock romp about the six wives of Henry VIII, and gave it a thumbs-up. It’s the kind of fresh new show that should do well, he predicted. However, older shows like “Phantom of the Opera” and “Chicago,” that were relying on tourists—no longer here in great numbers—may not last long, after the initial excitement of Broadway’s reawakening dies down. In fact, a person in the know had shared with him, he said, that only 14 of the 35 plays and musicals that are to make up the new season may survive.

Off-Broadway, Riedel added, may make a strong come-back because its more reasonably priced and often adventurous offerings are likely to appeal to young people, the ones who are out and about as though there is no pandemic in the downtown area where lives.

Board member and past president Tony Guida, who moderated the event, said he had researched some ticket prices for “Hamilton” and thought they seemed healthy–$399 each for tickets on the coming Friday and $700 for seats around Thanksgiving. Those are bargains, Riedel replied. Before the pandemic, tickets were going for $1,000 each. And ticket agents, who buy many seats and offer them for resale, may have to start dropping prices for this and other shows, or try to return them.

Anecdotes he imparted included Elaine Stritch often running out to the box office “in her panties” before the curtain rose on “A Delicate Balance” to see how well sales were going, much to the chagrin of her co-star George Grizzard. He had written about that in his latest book, “Singular Sensation: The Triumph of Broadway,” published November 2020. It focused on Broadway’s post-9/11 recovery. This one probably won’t be as swift, he said. People wanted to gather together almost immediately after that trauma. These days, of course, close proximity is not what many people are seeking.

2021 Silurians Journalism Award

Inspiration and Insights Highlight the
76th Annual Excellence in Journalism
Awards Gala.

THE WINNERS OF THIS YEAR’S Excellence in Journalism Awards took their bows virtually once again, in a festive program that debuted on June 16 and is now available at
https://youtu.be/QxysOdv0EhU/.
Our 76th annual celebration was as warm, impressive and informative as ever.

“Sixty Minutes” correspondent Bill Whitaker delivered a keynote address that was inspiring. He spoke about the importance of a free press, especially in these “unsettling times” and commended the award winners for contributing “to our national conversation.” He urged all journalists to “keep on keeping on,” building on trends in digital and non-profit news gathering. “We’re not dinosaurs,” he said. “We can adapt.”  You can watch Bill’s keynote address here.

Whitaker is well positioned to give us wise advice: During his more than four decades at CBS, he has covered stories ranging from the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster of 2011 to race relations and policing in Cleveland, Chicago and Tulsa. He was named a correspondent for “60 Minutes” in 2014.

In addition to accepting their awards, our Medallion-winners shared how they got their stories and gave us behind-the-scenes views of what went into their prize-winning entries, how their pieces were developed, and what problems had to be solved to bring those stories to fruition.

In addition to the 19 Medallions and 27 Certificates of Merit earned by print, broadcast and digital media in 15 news categories, there were two President’s Choice awards. One went to The New York Times for its investigation of Donald J. Trump’s tax returns, which included the revelations that Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency, and the same in his first year in office. The other President’s Choice award went to Newsday for its probe into groundwater pollution on Long Island and who was responsible for it.

A special award was made to the family of the late Jim Dwyer, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist of The New York Times, who died on Oct. 8, 2020. Jack Deacy, the awards committee chairman, said the award was created primarily to acknowledge Dwyer’s efforts on behalf of The Innocence Project, which through the use of DNA technology seeks the exoneration of people who have been wrongly convicted.

Silurian president Michael Serrill moderated the event and Joe Berger, our First Vice President and editor of Silurian News (which includes a full list of award winners and more, and is available on this website), invited guests to become Silurians Press Club members. An application can be found in the “Join Us!” section.

This was our final event until September 22, when we meet again on Zoom. We hope to see you there.

2021 Silurians Press Club Excellence in Journalism Awards

NEW YORK TIMES AND NEWSDAY
ARE THE BIG WINNERS
IN THE 2021 SILURIANS EXCELLENCE IN JOURNALISM AWARDS

Following is the full list of all Medallion and Merit award winners.

PRESIDENT’S CHOICE AWARD: “The President’s Taxes”
The New York Times, Russ Buettner, Susanne Craig & Mike McIntire

PRESIDENT’S CHOICE AWARD: “The Grumman Plume: Decades of Deceit,”
Newsday, Paul LaRocco and David M. Schwartz

EXCELLENCE IN JOURNALISM SPECIAL AWARD, Jim Dwyer,1957 – 2020;
Newsday – Daily News – New York Times; “A Crusader Against Injustice”

BREAKING NEWS REPORTING (Newspapers, Wire Services, Online, Magazines)
Medallion: “13 Deaths In A Day; Coronavirus Surge At New York City Hospital,”
New York Times, By Michael Rothfeld, Somini Sengupta, Joseph Goldstein, Brian M. Rosenthal
Merit: “Chalkbeat: New York City Schools Shutdown,” By Alex Zimmerman, Christina Veiga and Reema Amin

FEATURE NEWS REPORTING (Newspapers, Wire Services, Online, Magazines)
Medallion: “How They Stopped A Serial Killer,”
The Record/northjersey.com, By Christopher Maag, Julia Martin, Tom Nobile, Keldy Ortiz, Chris Pedota and Svetlana Shkolnikova.
Merit: “The Epicenter,” New York Times, By Dan Barry and Annie Correal Photos by Todd Heisler

INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING (Newspapers, Wire Services, Online, Magazines)
Medallion: “Deadly Truth: Probing Nursing Homes in Crisis,”
Associated Press, By Bernard Condon, Jim Mustian, Jennifer Peltz, Matthew Sedensky and Meghan Hoyer
Merit: “How New York City Bungled the Purchase of Life-Saving Medical Supplies During the Covid-19 Pandemic,” The City,” By Greg B. Smith and Gabriel Sandoval
Merit: “New Jersey Nursing Homes,” The Record/NorthJersey.com, By Scott Fallon and Lindy Washburn

BUSINESS AND FINANCIAL REPORTING (Newspapers, Wire Services, Online, Magazines)
Medallion: “Female Founders Under Fire,”
Fortune, By Maria Aspan
Merit: “PPP Loans on LI: Law, CPA Firms Got More than Other Business Sectors,” Newsday, By James T. Madore
Merit: “Small Businesses Battle for Survival Amid the Pandemic,” THE CITY, By Rachel Holliday Smith, Yoav Goen, Greg David and Ann Choi

SCIENCE, HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL REPORTING (Newspapers, Wire Services, Online, Magazines)
Medallion: “Wasted Potential: The Consequences of New York City’s Recycling Failure,”
Politico, By Sally Goldenberg and Danielle Muoio
Medallion: “Horror, Hope and Courage: Inside the Red Zone at Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital,” Newsday, by David Olson, Photographs and video by Jeffrey Basinger
Merit: “Fertility Inc.,” Fortune, By Beth Kowitt
Merit: “Breathing Life into Fresh Kills: Landfill’s Long Road to Renewal,” New York Times, By Robert Sullivan

EDITORIALS, COMMENTARY & PUBLIC SERVICE (Newspapers, Wire Services, Online, Magazines)
Medallion: “Cold Spring Hills”
, Newsday, by Jim Baumbach, Matt Clark, Paul LaRocco, Sandra Peddie and David M. Schwartz
Merit: “Lives of New York”, New York Times, By Alex Vadukul

ARTS & CULTURE REPORTING (Newspapers, News Services, Online, Magazines)
Medallion: “One Lost Weekend,”
New York Times, By Michael Paulson, Graham Bowley, Elizabeth A. Harris, Jessie Wender
Merit: “New York Love Story: The Submarine Officer and the Beatles Cover Band,” New York Times, By Alex Vadukul
Merit: “The Strange Lives of Objects in the Coronavirus Era,” New York Times, By Sophie Haigney, Illustrations By Peter Arkle
Merit: ‘I Couldn’t Do Anything’: The Virus and an E.R. Doctor’s Suicide,” New York Times, By Corina Knoll, Ali Watkins and Michael Rothfeld

PEOPLE PROFILES (Newspapers, News Services, Online Media, Magazines)
Medallion: “Sonny,”
Newsday, By Sandra Peddie, Robert Cassidy, Raychel Brightman and Jeffrey Basinger
Merit: “When Black Models Were the Toast of Paris: Shailah Edmonds on a Lost Fashion Era,” New York Times, By Alex Vadukul
Merit: “13 Hours, 22 Bodies: The Long, Lonesome Shift of a Crematory Worker in the Heat of Covid-19,” NBC News, By Rich Schapiro

MINORITY AFFAIRS REPORTING (Newspapers, Wire Services, Online, Magazines)
Medallion: “Forgotten Communities,” New York Times, By David Gonzalez Photos By Juan Arredondo, Gabriela Bhaskar & Benjamin Norman
Merit: “From the African Table,” The Record, northjersey.com./ USA Today Network, By Jim Beckerman and Shaylah Brown
Merit: “Fight or Flee: Black Families Weigh Their Choices While a Once-Proud School District Struggles to Come Back,” Journal News/lohud.com, By Thomas Zambito

SPORTS REPORTING AND COMMENTARY (Newspapers, Wire Services, Online, Magazines)
Medallion: “How New York City Lost Boxing,”
New York Times, By Ali Watkins, Photos by Chris Lee
Merit: “Tom Seaver, 1944-2020: For Generations of Mets Fans, He Was Simply ‘The Franchise,’’” New York Times, By Bruce Weber

BREAKING NEWS PHOTOGRAPHY (Newspapers, Wire Services, Online Media, Magazines)
Medallion: “Summerlong Coverage of Racial Justice Demonstrations,” Newsday, Conrad Williams, Jr., Alejandra Villa Laorca, Thomas A. Ferrara, Steve Pfost and Charles Eckert
Merit: “Portrait of a Protester in Tears,”  Journal News/ lohud.com, Seth Harrison
Merit: “Racial Justice Demonstrations,” THE CITY, Ben Fractenberg

FEATURE NEWS PHOTOGRAPHY (Newspapers, Wire Services, Online, Magazines)
Medallion: “Photo Essays On The Pandemic,” New York Times Magazine, Philip Montgomery
Merit: “The New York City of Our Imagination,” New York Times, Todd Heisler
Merit: “The Other Side of the Curve,” Newsday, Jeffrey Basinger
Merit: “The Madonna Funeral Home,” The Record/northjersey.com, Amy Newman

SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY (Newspapers, News Wire Services, Online Media, Magazines)
Medallion: “Fleet Footed,”
Newsday, J. Conrad Williams, Jr.
Merit: “Face Off,” Newsday, J. Conrad Williams, Jr.

BROADCAST JOURNALISM ( Television: Breaking News)
Medallion: “Racial Injustice and the Road to Reopening,” WABC TV, Eyewitness News Team
Merit: “Living Through the Pandemic,” WABC TV, Eyewitness News Team

BROADCAST JOURNALISM (Television: Feature News)
Medallion: “Outbreak at the Veterans Home,” News 12 New Jersey, Walt Kane, Produced by Karen Attonito.

BROADCAST JOURNALISM (Radio: Breaking News)
Medallion: “Racial Justice Protests and Soho Looting: June 1 & 2,”
WCBS Radio, Newsradio 880 News Team
Merit: “Coverage of Racial Justice Demonstrations and Soho Looting” WINS Radio, 1010 WINS Radio News Team

A Trio of Journalism Students to Receive
Silurian Scholarships

The newest winners of the Silurians Press Club’s $2,000 scholarships are three outstanding students at graduate schools in journalism who are eager to report on under served communities.

Roberto Bolanos Pinella of the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at the City University of New York always thought he wanted to be a journalist, a goal sparked by his intense interest in Ecuadorian politics as a high school student in Guayaquil.

However, attending Hunter College he realized his command of English was weak so he switched his major from journalism to history with a minor in political science.

After getting his B.A. in 2017, Bolanos began working as a paralegal at the Hellenic American Neighborhood Action Committee, a non-profit in Astoria, Queens where he still works fulltime helping people with immigration and family problems. “I enjoy talking to people and asking questions.” Still, he says, “I knew something was missing.” So, during the pandemic last year, a Google search led him to the bilingual studies program at CUNY’s Craig New mark School where he is pursuing his dream of becoming a commentator on politics on a Spanish-speaking network.

Now, 31, Bolanos is studying broadcasting and working for a Latino service journalism website called DocumentedNY.  He also produces and narrates documentaries, including one on the politics and cultures of Latino musicians who pop up around town in itinerant rock bands.

His most recent project at CUNY has him riding the New York sub ways with a camera to interview riders about their fears about the pandemic and other anxieties.

While still an under graduate at James Madison University, Shanna Colleen Kelly from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism founded a website called “Seven Mile Satellite” to provide local news to beachgoers in Avalon and Stone Harbor, N.J., the two towns on a seven-mile-long island that previously had been a “news desert.”

Last summer, Kelly devoted much of her coverage to the pandemic, but this summer, thanks to her Silurian award, she hopes to hire some freelance contributors to provide much broader coverage as the pandemic ebbs.

At James Madison, Kelly was the man aging editor of the school paper, “The Breeze”, a winner of Virginia Press Association awards. As a graduate student this year at Columbia, she has worked on digital journalism covering the pandemic for NYC Reopens and devoted her master’s thesis to an examination of the immigration flow between Venezuela and Argentina.

Emily Fjelstad of New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Institute of Journalism, began her career as an undergraduate studying linguistics at NYU then focused in graduate school on cultural criticism.

A transgender writer, she has upcoming pieces in Softpunk Magazine and Laid Off NYC. During this school year, she has reported on Covid-19 from Prospect Park, written essays on the psychology of reclusiveness and penned poems on “transness.”

Silurian Contingency Fund: Help
Is Available for Journalists in Need

For more than 60 years, the Silurian Contingency Fund has been providing grants to New York metropolitan area journalists facing financial hardship. All present and former New York City journalists who can demonstrate need are eligible for grants from the fund. Members of the Silurians Press Club will be given priority.

All transactions — including the identities of the recipients — are strictly confidential and known only to the directors of the fund, which operates independently from the Silurians Press Club. The fund, whose formal name is the George E. Sokolsky Silurian Contingency Fund after its first chairman, is administered by a four-person Board of Directors, all members of the Silurians. Steven Marcus is president. The other directors are Mark Liff, Kevin Noblet and Michael Serrill, who as president of the Silurians Press Club serves in an ex-officio capacity. The board members evaluate applications for grants and determine eligibility and the amount of the grants.

Grants have historically ranged up to $1,000. To apply, contact Steven Marcus at steven.b.marcus@gmail.com.

If you want to contribute to the fund, also contact Steve. The fund is certified by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501 (c) (3) charity, so contributions are tax deductible. Contributions should be made payable to the George E. Sokolsky Silurian Contingency Fund and sent to Steve at 160 West 96th St., Apt. 15M, New York, NY 10025.

Marty Baron Covers Hollywood, the Washington Post, Trump, Bezos and Other Topics During his May 19 Silurians Talk

Marty Baron

Rather than “that crummy actor [Liev] Schreiber,” Michael Serrill asked Marty Baron during his virtual visit with the Silurians on May 19th, didn’t the much-esteemed, recently-retired editor of the Washington Post think he should have played Marty Baron in “Spotlight”?

“No, I don’t, actually,” replied Baron, whose eleven years atop the Boston Globe included the landmark expose of pedophilia by Catholic priests and a cover-up of the abuse by the Boston archdiocese depicted in the Oscar-winning 2015 film. Schreiber “did a great job,” Baron insisted, though Hollywood’s version of Marty Baron, he conceded, was short on charm and had precious little to say. The Marty Baron speaking via Zoom from the Berkshires was considerably more visible, voluble, and witty.

His talk provided an outline of sorts for his memoir-to-be: a boy raised by Israeli immigrants to whom news mattered; who edited his Florida high school and college papers; who got himself an MBA “just in case the journalism thing didn’t work out.” Work out it did, and then some: in his illustrious career the 66-year-old Baron led three major dailies (the Miami Herald was the third), and held major posts at the Los Angeles Times and New York Times before reaching the Post, where he presided from December 2012 until his retirement last February.

At his insistence, there was no speech: he’s giving enough of those these days. Instead, he took questions, the first several of which, predictably, concerned Donald Trump and his four-year campaign to sully the press. To a considerable extent, said Baron, he succeeded.

“In many ways, that might be his single biggest achievement, if you can call it that,” he said. “Look, we were a convenient enemy. He always needed an enemy. Otherwise you’d judge him on his own merits.” But at the same time, Baron noted, Trump had actually been good for both journalism and journalists: people who’d taken the press for granted came to cherish it, while the reporters covering him became ever more “unflinching.”

And Trump had been good to and for the Post: while denouncing its correspondents and denying them credentials, he’d also cooperated with them, spilling to Bob Woodward among others. At work, he theorized, were both exhibitionism and vanity. “I think he assumed he would persuade Bob that he was doing a great job or something like that,” he said. “God knows.”

It’s thanks largely to Trump, he added, that the paper now has three million digital subscribers — a goal which Jeff Bezos, the Amazon mogul who’d bought the Post nine months into Baron’s tenure, championed. With its storied name, headquarters in a world capital, and reputation for “shining a light into dark corners,” as Bezos himself liked to say, he envisions a paper which one day will have ten, or even a hundred, million digital subscribers.

“He’s the first person I’ve ever heard talk about what we’re going to be in 20 years,” Baron said. “When I first heard him say ‘20 years’ I practically fell to the floor. I’ve never heard the term ‘20 years.’ I was used to hearing ‘next quarter,’ ‘next year.’

“He’s a very unconventional thinker,” he continued. “That’s how he came up with Amazon. If he had thought conventionally he would have been Barnes & Noble.”

Baron said he initially spoke to Bezos every other week, mostly via teleconference, mostly about technology and marketing, though the frequency of their chats eventually trailed off to maybe once a month. “He was fairly preoccupied by some other things at one point, you may recall,” Baron noted. He said the paper’s coverage of those “other things” — i.e. Bezos’s costly divorce — was robust, uninhibited, and uncensored. “We had no special access,” he said. “We gave him no special treatment.”

The same thing, he said, has always gone for coverage of Amazon: “He has never quashed a story or suggested a story or anything like that,” Baron said. During many of his visits to Washington, Bezos didn’t even drop into the Post to say hello. The Post is once again profitable, and Bezos is reinvesting those profits. “Obviously, he doesn’t need the dividends,” Baron said.

When he took the reins, 580 people worked in the Post newsroom; soon there’ll be nearly twice that. Hundreds vie for openings there, but with formerly great papers in other cities stripped bare, Baron observed, certain positions — political reporters, foreign correspondents — are hard to fill.

He called the plight of smaller newspapers “the biggest crisis in American journalism,” one to which he plans to devote some of his retirement time. “I don’t think we can lose hope,” he said, noting that, not too long ago, the Post and New York Times faced equally dire predictions. With the right formula or investor, he said, the troubled New York Daily News might also rebound. “There’s certainly room for a good strong New York news organization, which the New York Times isn’t,” he said.

He declined an invitation to comment on the stormy departures of Times editorial page editor James Bennet and reporter Donald McNeil. “Oh, God. I’m not sure I want to get into the New York Times’s controversies, to tell you the truth,” he demurred. “I’ve had plenty of my own to deal with.”

For all the investigations he’s shepherded, Baron said, the “Spotlight” probe was his most personally meaningful, “simply because it had such a direct impact on ordinary people, people who had no power whatsoever, who were unable to grab the attention of law enforcement authorities, politicians, and the press.

“We all know that journalists are supposed to be investigating government and politics,” he said, “but it’s really important that we also investigate other powerful institutions in our society, and the Catholic Church was then the most powerful institution in Boston and in New England and one of the most powerful institutions in the world.”

Friends of Baron’s told him that “Spotlight” failed to capture his wit, though he confessed he hadn’t felt very funny at the time. “I was a newcomer to the Globe and to Boston, I was called an outsider, I was treated like one, and I felt like one,” he recalled. It has all the makings of a sequel. This time, Baron could play himself. And give himself some better lines.