'For Father, journalism was a mission'

Aviv Bushinsky eulogizes his father, journalist and media personality Joseph (Jay) Bushinsky after his passing last week.

Aviv Bushinsky ,

Jay Bushinsky
Jay Bushinsky
Courtesy of the family

The author, Aviv Bushinsky, is son of prizewinning journalist Jay Bushinsky, who died on Wednesday. He was 85.

Father,

I'm sitting at your desk now - it's covered with microphones - each decorated with the logo of another international network - a huge computer, fax, and telephones. There was once a clumsy typewriter and even an ancient teleprinter of the type one could perhaps only find in an Israeli post office.

You were a walking media station - all at once: Television, regular column, newspaper articles, and radio reports. So much so that the credits rolling at the end listing every station was longer than the story itself. I sit at your desk and write slowly. I can't keep up with you. Soon is the funeral and I won't be on time. Or, in the words we heard throughout our childhood:

"I have to meet a deadline," or, "there's a bird to catch, we're about to go live," or, "the satellite's up, we can broadcast."

When I ask my students today who can be a journalist and what qualities are required, they say: "He should be a mean-spirited, conniving manipulator who's looking for sensationalism." The media students today want to be spokesmen and public relations people. So especially here next to Father, one of the giants of the media world from the days of Peter Jennings, Cronkite, Rather, and others - I want to answer those who don't know or have forgotten - "What it is to be a journalist".

You'll never find a person as naive as my father. Someone who believes everyone because people just don't lie. How many times did he give people things because ... they just asked. Today they call such a person a sucker. A person with eternal optimism. He didn't connect to any clique, he didn't have a list of "favorites" and even refused to accept Israeli citizenship because it would have been inappropriate. He wasn't looking for the next job or to move on to some glittering management post.

Too bad my son Dan didn't get to see Grandfather at his best. In general it's a shame that there's an entire generation that didn't know Joseph-Jay Bushinsky:

Because with him it was a mission. There are listeners, there are readers, and there are viewers who are waiting. For years he was the only voice to report to them from the Middle East. Yes, it was a different kind of journalism. At that time there was no Internet and no cell phones. My family knew every public phone number in Tel Aviv. We were dragged along for the ride - we were conscripted. Something newsworthy happened? There went the vacation. He needed to broadcast? The house was silent. The phone doesn't stop ringing. It's Lily Sharon, Arik wants to talk to Dad. It's Avital Sharansky - Father must help release Prisoner of Zion Natan Sharansky. Our home housed a war room 24/7. We didn't complain. Journalism, gentlemen, is a calling.

There were times when Father wasn't home at all. From Beirut to Jerusalem, from Damascus to Cairo, and from bombing attack to another peace process. It was self-evident. Father didn't really raise us. The world was waiting. My brother and sister should correct me, but he never told us what to do - or what not to do. Well, it's lucky we had Mom. And although he supposedly "spared the rod" I admired Father. I wanted to be just like Dad.

An interesting man, a scholar, a master of history. One who was always first on the scene and told the stories that the world contrived. I worked hard on this dream. From age 7 I traveled with him. From the terror attack in Ma'alot in 1974 to interviews with Begin, Rabin, and others. When you see your father's name posted in a huge baseball stadium that said: "WELCOME JAY BUSHINSKY WHO JUST RETURNED FROM AN ASSIGNMENT IN THE MIDDLE EAST", you want to be just like Dad.

In the mid-1990s I thought I'd succeeded. Suddenly I was a journalist who wrote for the Voice of Israel, a political correspondent for Galei Tzahal, and I did a little television. I felt the same as him but just in mini-version. Like a little taste.

And here's the story that shows the differences - the Generation of Giants vs. the Generation of Almost Giants:

One day they contacted me on behalf of the Prime Minister and suggested that I be Binyamin Netanyahu's media advisor. I hesitated. Here's an opportunity to advance. To be a fly on the wall of the Most Senior Man. I asked Father, the same father who never told me what to do - but I mean never. "Well, Dad, what do you say?" What did he say? Well, I suppose you already guessed. "It's not necessary, my son; you're already a journalist, why give it up?" That's all the difference. My father did what he most wanted to do in the world - and did it well, better than anyone else in the world.

That's it, Dad, you've come to ... a dead line.

Then I'll end in other words. The way Dad used to prepare the tape and microphone for the next broadcast:

"One two, one two, testing the level..."

Dad, Jay, was on another level. A level like no other.

//signed// Admirer. Bushinsky, the Son of.



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