Ben Bagdikian, journalist, author and media critic

Ben Bagdikian, journalist, author and media critic

“Never forget, that your obligation is to the people. It is not, at heart, to those who pay you, or to your editor, or to your sources, or to your friends, or to the advancement of your career. It is to the public.” 

Who he was

Ben Bagdikian was an eminent American journalist who left a mark on the profession through his exemplary work, for which he received a Pulitzer Prize and a Peabody Award. 

The son of Armenian Genocide survivors, he was born in the Ottoman Empire during its dying days. As a young boy he fled the massacres with his family, settling in the United States. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps and served during World War II. 

He began his career in journalism after the war, eventually landing a job at the Washington Post. With time Bagdikian became the Post’s assistant managing editor of national news and it was during his tenure in this role that he helped to publicize the Pentagon Papers.

Leaving daily journalism to focus on writing lengthier pieces he published "The Media Monopoly," a seminal work on how very few companies in America own the vast majority of media outlets. Although he published other books, it was this one, as well as its successor, "The New Media Monopoly," that he was best known for. 

During his professional career he was also a professor and dean emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley school of journalism. 

Interesting fact

Bagdikian lived with families in the American South to be able to write about the civil rights struggle of the 1960s.

Learn more about him

Ben Bagdikian Official Website

New York Times Obituary