Monday, July 28, 2008

Obama Hugs the Headlines in Berlin

HIGHLIGHTS

There are a million journalists who are not famous. Some are half-famous. And very few famous, if not worldwide famous. (…) This week, the branch got a new mega-star. It is (one would like to say at long last, finally, it’s about time it’s) a woman. Judith Bonesky is her name. But before we can dedicate ourselves to her fame, let us step back to an indelible impression from German postwar history: it is the 7th of July 1985, 6:26 pm. Boris Becker is 17 years old and “has matchball” [proper tennis parlance, anyone?] in the Wimbledon Finals. He stretches upwards, serves, and hits his target. An Ace. The scene is repeated endlessly on television. Looking back on his life, this former wonder-child sits with a glass of beer in front of the TV and says: “This win was my own personal moon landing.”

What, you might ask, does this have to do with Judith Bonesky? Some of you might even ask, Who in the world is this Judith Bonesky? Judith Bonesky is the Bild * reporter who was in the fitness studio with Barack Obama in Berlin, whose front page story one wishes one could cite word-for-word (but one cannot), so here is the finale: “Barack Obama put his hand on my shoulder and I grab him around the waist – wow, he doesn’t even sweat! I think: What a man!” This story (or reportage, if one can call it that) is for Ms (Frau) or Miss (Fraulein) Bonesky the matchpoint, her journalistic moon-landing. The one that decides from one second to the next if one will win or lose. The report, like Becker’s ball, could have gone into outer space, but no. The reporter met her match, not only as a woman, but also as a journalist, that is, stylistically and morally.

Even if we shouldn’t compare them so bluntly (or clownishly), the reporter Bonesky is now almost as famous as the intern Lewinski. And we, her colleagues, who have been coming to the office obediently as worker bees, far from every flight to the moon or moon landing, we must contritely recognize the fact that the goddess of fortune doesn’t reward the industrious, but rather the daring. Not the colleagues in culture section, who bravely sit through one premiere after the next. Not the colleagues in the politics section, who meet up with the Head of the CDU, SPD, or Green Party for an interview, but rather the boulevard amazons who go with HIM to the fitness studio, and as he lays his arm on her, and she doesn’t shy away from all of what she reports (boldly going where no woman before her has gone). WHAT A WOMAN! Wow.

*The Bildzeitung has a readership of some 12 million, comparable to the The Sun, with a readership of nearly 8 million.

(This column, "Das Streiflicht," is published daily in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung. My translation is rough and needs lessons in tennis-tongue. Help, anyone?)

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