Journalists Remember Michael Hastings | Hillman Foundation

Clear It With Sidney

Notes on journalism for the common good, by Lindsay Beyerstein

Journalists Remember Michael Hastings

Michael Hastings, the reporter who brought down America’s top general in Afghanistan with a magazine profile, died in a fiery single-vehicle car crash on Tuesday at the age of 33. Ben Smith, Hastings’ boss at Buzzfeed, remembers him as a fearless reporter who leveraged his outsize personality to call the powerful to account:

Michael Hastings was really only interested in writing stories someone didn’t want him to write — often his subjects; occasionally his editor. While there is no template for a great reporter, he was one for reasons that were intrinsic to who he was: ambitious, skeptical of power and conventional wisdom, and incredibly brave. And he was warm and honest in a way that left him many unlikely friends among people you’d expect to hate him.

Rolling Stone contributor Jeff Sharlet reflects on Hastings’ journalistic legacy:

 And I’m writing as just an ordinary citizen – there’s not much hope in the news, but what Hastings did was inspiring. What he did was actually pretty ordinary, too – he reported what the general said. What he actually said. And that was enough to damn the general. It didn’t end the war, it was barely a bump in the path of empire, but Jesus, even that – it was beautiful. As was the outcry of a thousand hacks crying foul because Hastings did what they couldn’t do: he reported the facts. Hastings drew them out into the open. So, really, it was a double expose – of the general and the press corps that made him.

Hastings didn’t hesitate to make enemies, but he also made many friends. Journalists across the country are reeling from the news of his untimely passing. He will be missed.