The New Yorker recently republished Calvin Trillin’s wonderful profile of R.W. ‘Johnny’ Apple, the famous New York Times journalist.
There is a consensus in the trade, I am pleased to report, that Johnny Apple—R. W. Apple, Jr., of the New York Times — is a lot easier to take now than he once was. Even Apple believes that. When I asked him not long ago about the paragraph in Gay Talese’s 1969 book on the Times, “The Kingdom and the Power,” which presents him as a brash young eager beaver, he said it was, alas, “quite an accurate portrait,” although he doesn’t recall boasting in the newsroom that while covering the war in Vietnam he had personally killed a few Vietcong—the remark that, in Talese’s account, led an older reporter to say, “Women and children, I presume.” In speaking of those early days, Apple said, “I was desperate to prove myself.” You could argue, I suppose, that, in the words of a longtime colleague, “he doesn’t have to argue the case anymore.”
It’s long, but well worth a read. A report from a vanished media world.