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November 16, 2005:

Carl Hartman ’36

Carl Hartman ’36 has written some 20,000 stories for the Associated Press. (courtesy AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

Sixty-one years and counting
Carl Hartman ’36 still writes for the Associated Press

One day when Carl Hartman ’36 was sitting in a Princeton English class, he and his fellow students were asked what they were going to do after graduation. “I didn’t say anything,” he recalled recently, “but a bright fellow said he was going into journalism. It got a tremendous laugh.” Back then, journalism was clearly considered a second-tier career.

But soon after graduation Hartman found himself entering the Fourth Estate, and he’s never left. Today, at 88, he still files an average of two stories a week for the Associated Press, his employer since 1944. In fact, Hartman is the longest-tenured active reporter at the venerable wire service — and he’s not yet ready for retirement. “I’m able to tell people things about their country and the globe that they didn’t know before, and that may make them better ... at reaching the decisions, political and otherwise, that make for a better world,” says Hartman. Having the job, he adds, has helped him cope with the death in March of his wife, Martha Hartman.

Hartman has been stationed in Washington, D.C., since 1978, and for the last five years has covered the D.C. arts and culture scene from a cluttered cubicle in the AP’s sprawling Washington bureau. Over his years with AP, he has been posted in Madrid, Paris, Budapest, Bonn, and Brussels, focusing mainly on political and economic news.

Though Hartman never worked in journalism on campus, he started writing professionally at his first job, for a Broadway publicist. He later entered journalism, working for the New York Daily News, a small newspaper in Puerto Rico, and the Jewish Telegraphic Agency before settling at the AP.

At a recent Princeton reunion, Hartman, who majored in English, found only a few classmates who were still working. “I could have retired at 65, but the idea of retiring at all has always been something I dreaded,” he says. “It seems to me, given the longevity of people these days, that to retire at 65 is a dead-end deal.”

By Louis Jacobson ’92

Louis Jacobson ’92 is deputy editor of Roll Call newspaper in Washington.