This is not about real estate. It’s thoughts triggered by the passing of a hero of mine. If you were privileged to know him and his work, you realized you had rubbed shoulders with a most unlikely giant (by today’s standards).
Gabe Pressman left us yesterday in his beloved New York City at the age of 93. When I was starting my 10 year career in broadcast news in New York, Gabe was already in his prime. We worked together at WNBC-TV News and at WNEW-TV News in the 70s. I was an up and coming news writer and aspiring editor and Gabe was already the dean of TV news “street reporters” – now a dying breed of broadcast journalists.
He was a small man, a proud NY Jew, with a rumpled appearance, a microphone in his hand, and a camera crew following him everywhere. From natural disasters to human tragedies and political scams and skullduggery, Gabe seemed to be always on the scene. He asked the obvious and tough questions of people in power that today’s broadcast news people seem to fear like the plague.
I was honored to serve with him when broadcast journalism truly felt like public service. He helped me understand that obligation — and much more.
In 1977, I accompanied Gabe is his field producer to cover Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s suddenly announced and unprecedented visit to Israel. Gabe and I flew from New York to Tel Aviv and then drove up the hill to Jerusalem. We were the only independent (non-network) US TV journalists there. We spent most of our time visiting residential neighborhoods in Jerusalem, knocking on apartment doors, asking to speak with families watching history unfold on their TVs. Even then, people yearned for a peace that is still yet to come.
On the flights, I sat next to a legend of a man, but we didn’t talk shop. Instead Gabe reflected on being a Jew, on his heritage, and what it would mean for him to step on the soil of his people’s re-adopted homeland. He talked of relatives lost in the holocaust. I just listened and learned. That’s mostly what you did around Gabe.
Oh by the way, after a short few days the Sadat visit was over and we were headed home, but not until we had tried and failed to get an interview with Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leader Yasser Arafat.
We succeeded in contacting him on Cyprus but he refused to meet. That extra effort was typical Gabe. Never miss an opportunity to report what others don’t attempt to learn.
Gabe, I miss you a lot. You’ll always be part of me.