Kay Graham's Washington Post

March 21, 1991

On the day after it was announced Katharine Graham was retiring as chief executive officer of the Washington Post Co., Mrs. Graham attended an emotional ceremony marking the sixth year of Associated Press reporter Terry Anderson's disappearance into the clutches of radical Islamic hostage-takers. Noting that Mr. Anderson had risked his life to report on the news from Lebanon, Mrs. Graham declared: "Our American name for it is guts. Terry Anderson embodies this description."

Well said, by a journalist who herself has shown plenty of guts in building the Post from a lackluster newspaper into a national powerhouse finally reaping the full potential of its prime location. Our neighbor at the other end of the Baltimore-Washington corridor deserves every success as she continues as chairman of the Post enterprise and works on her memoirs.

It is no secret in the newspaper business that the rise of the Post has meant tougher competition for The Sun. For decades, we were the only paper of note published between the Potomac and the Hudson rivers. But after Mrs. Graham became publisher in 1963, in succession to her father and her husband, the Post started covering the federal government as the local story it was and is for Washington readers, and moving aggressively into foreign reportage.

Kay Graham's sternest tests came during the Nixon administration. She personally approved publication of the Pentagon papers in the face of a federal court decision to prevent the New York Times from doing the same. At risk were nothing less than a possible criminal indictment and injury to the publishing company's fortunes on the eve of a public stock offering. Then came the Watergate story, with Mrs. Graham backing coverage of a political scandal many other papers were downplaying until it took on proportions that led to the resignation of President Nixon.

As Mrs. Graham's son, Donald, takes over as chief executive officer, we promise them The Sun will give no quarter in the unending struggle for readers in the no-man's land between the Baltimore and Washington metropolitan cores. In fierce competition, both papers will be better, and their readers will be better served. We salute the Washington Post and its great lady.

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