Robert Teitelman, editor of The Deal, remembers investment banker Bruce Wasserstein, who was the driving force behind the publication’s creation and died earlier this week.
Teitelman writes, “He was never a meddler in editorial matters. He never slipped us scoops, gave us tips or leaks (sometimes I thought: too bad). In the early days, when we were desperately trying to get our feet beneath us, he would regularly call. My fear was that he would rip us for stories we had screwed up about the subject he knew best, M&A, and that we were still learning. But he didn’t. Instead, he would say, ‘Now forget that I’m the chairman, and pretend I’m just a reader. Have you ever thought of …’ and he would rattle off often sensible ideas.
“Rarely did he criticize us for our ignorance or lack of sophistication (he certainly had opportunities); and never did he try to prospectively shape coverage, although he occasionally got pressure from colleagues and acquaintances. He was most concerned that we were fair, smart and credible, and he shrugged off the heat like an overcoat. Eventually, as he found other ways to spend his time (Lazard and New York magazine) and, I like to think, we improved, the calls from the ultimate reader petered out.
“But he was always there. He was remarkably patient, which certainly runs against his image. The Deal has had its ups and downs, and more than once our world threatened to melt away, but he remained as we continued to work out the complex logic of his little idea. When news of his death broke, someone out there in that media jungle tweeted that Bruce was the last great admirer of magazines. I’m not sure that’s really true — although they are rarer than they used to be. But he did seem to love them, to revel in the mechanics of the media and to consume journalism.”
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