Johns Hopkins Magazine
S E P T E M B E R 1 9 9 7 I S S U E
When Theo Lippman Jr. called and offered to
write a remembrance of Murray Kempton '39, who passed away in
May, the decision was an easy one: Who better to write about one
of this country's finest columnists than a veteran newspaperman
himself? (See "Imperishable
Lippman, who wrote for the editorial pages of The Baltimore Sun from 1965 through 1995, says he's long been a fan of Kempton. Their paths began crossing at political conventions in the early 1960s, around the time Lippman started covering the national political scene. "I worked and lived in an age in which journalists who tried to write about everything did it very poorly--except for him," Lippman says. "He was quite a rarity."
Lippman followed Kempton's work closely over the years. Before sitting down to write the tribute that appears in this issue, he revisited several collections of Kempton's work. "What reinforced my appreciation of him was how well it stood up," Lippman says. In daily newspaper journalism it's "typical for prose to be perishable," to lose something with the passage of time, he points out. "But the things I read of Kempton's did, in fact, last. It makes you sort of proud as a newspaperman to see another newspaperman doing something quite outstanding--something that survives, and has a quality of literature about it."
Lippman, who taught opinion writing at Hopkins in The Writing Seminars from 1987 through 1996, has now retired from both journalism and teaching; he makes his home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. --SD
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