November 12 – Happy Birthday Tony Benjamin

BenjaminThomas Jefferson famously said, “If I had to choose between government without newspapers, and newspapers without government, I wouldn’t hesitate to choose the latter.” I’m going to modify that one a bit and say if I had to choose between having an Amsterdam newspaper without Tony Benjamin on its management staff, and an Amsterdam newspaper with him, I would certainly hesitate a bit but in the end I would always choose the latter.

Like Jefferson’s relationship with the press, my personal dealings with the Recorder when Tony was its Editor were not what one would characterize as bucolic. I was more involved in community affairs back then than I am now and it seemed that every time I got involved with one cause or another my phone would ring and one of Tony’s super aggressive reporters would be on the other end of the line asking me what I used to back then describe as “accusatory questions” about what we were really up to. It could have been an executive session called during a school board meeting, a get together of my friend Joe Pepe’s mayoral campaign committee or a meeting in Ned Wilkinson’s office of a group of us trying to get a new indoor community swimming pool built, the next morning our receptionist would buzz my phone and say “the Recorder is on line 1 for you.”

Now though it was always a reporter doing the calling, the journalistic digging that went on back then was definitely a team effort and Tony Benjamin was the undisputed captain of that team…

You can read the rest of my story about this former Amsterdam journalist in my new book “A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam Birthdays.” To order your copy, click here.

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