Despite these shortcomings, Bartley still deserves credit for revitalizing the editorial form. "Journalistically, my proudest boast is that I've run the only editorial page in the country that actually sells newspapers," he said in 2002, and he was absolutely right. Wherever editorial pages take a genuine stand on an issue instead of pondering the complexity of the world for 600 words before recommending further study, you have Bartley to thank. Wherever editorial pages report a story or break news, wherever editorials read as if they were written by a human instead of an institutional voice, you probably have Bartley to thank, too. And wherever an editorial page serves red meat instead of tapioca, no matter what the page's politics, its writers should pay royalties to the Bartley estate.
Disclosure: In the last 20 years I've written three op-eds for the Journal and a couple of book reviews. I never met or worked with Bartley. Argue with me via e-mail at email@example.com. (E-mail may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise.)