Saul Friedman recently observed his 56th year as a reporter/columnist, one of the survivors of journalism that depended on notebooks, copy paper, and typewriters. Raised in his native Brooklyn, he settled in Houston, Texas, after serving in the army. And there he began work at $50 a week, on the police beat for the Houston Chronicle. During his reporting days, Friedman covered the Civil Rights movement and Martin Luther King, from the Montgomery bus boycott to Selma and Memphis. In 1963 Friedman won a Nieman Fellowship for a year’s study at Harvard. He shared a Pulitzer Price for the Detroit Free Press coverage of the 1967 riots in Detroit.
With Knight-Ridder in Washington, Friedman covered the birth of the consumer movement with Ralph Nader, the anti-war movement, the impeachment of Richard Nixon, which earned him a Pulitzer nomination. He also covered a couple of wars in India and Israel, the presidencies of Lyndon Johnson, Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and eight years of Ronald Reagan. After a year-long sabbatical to teach national and foreign affairs reporting at the Columbia School of Journalism, Friedman joined Newsday. When George H.W. Bush, who he knew in Houston, became president, Friedman shifted to foreign affairs and covering then Secretary of State James Baker. He was witness to some of the momentous events in recent history, including the fall of the Berlin Wall and Soviet communism, the first Gulf War and the Middle East conference in Madrid that led to the tentative peace agreements between Israel and the Palestinians and Israel and Jordan.
In 1996, Friedman left daily journalism to spend five months in South Africa teaching journalists, most of them young, how to deal with reporting in a new democracy. When he returned, Friedman founded and named his column, “Gray Matters,” which was ahead of its time, as a survival guide for older people. Now, in its 13 year, Gray Matters is posted each week on the excellent blog, Time Goes By, ( www.timegoesby.net ) for older Americans and those approaching retirement. In addition, Friedman, who has written for various publications, contributes twice monthly commentaries, called “Reflections,” drawn from his years as a reporter.