I’ve been accepted to the 2008 Age Boom Academy, an intensive week-long seminar for journalists. Usually it’s in the fall, but it’s being held in June this year in order to focus on the politics of aging and longevity, with an eye on the upcoming presidential election. I’m honored and delighted.
The seminar is funded by the New York Times Company Foundation, which is why attendees get to call themselves NY Times Fellows and tour the Times newsroom. The impressive line-up of speakers includes Don Hewitt, former executive producer of “60 Minutes”, and Carl Bernstein of Woodward-and fame. We meet at the International Longevity Center in New York, which was founded by Robert Butler and who’ll be talking about his new book, The Longevity Revolution.
Conveniently for my purposes, Butler turned 80 in January and I interviewed him last month. He mentioned that when Why Survive?, his landmark call for a national policy on aging, came out in 1975, he was invited to appear on television all over the place. He was amazed when the book went on to win the Pulitzer Prize. Now Butler’s far better known, and even happens to be dating Barbara Walters, but reports, “I haven’t gotten as much attention for this book as I did for Why Survive? And nobody knew me. I think it’s a different time.”
What’s the story? Given the demographic writing on the wall, why should it be difficult to galvanize a national conversation around the implications of our lengthening lifespans? I’m hoping to find some answers at the Age Boom Academy.