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The News

“A newspaper is a device for making the ignorant
more ignorant and the crazy crazier.”
H. L. Mencken

“Be careful. Journalism is more addictive than crack cocaine.
Your life can get out of balance. “
Dan Rather

“The pressure to compete, the fear somebody else will make
the splash first, creates a frenzied environment in which
a blizzard of information is presented and
serious questions may not be raised.”
Carl Bernstein

In our fast paced world, there is an adrenalin rush to be the first to break a story.  By the time a story reaches the newspapers, it’s already been witnessed and discussed in great detail on broadcast news.  It literally is yesterday’s news.  But in a world of 24 hour news channels, journalists are victimized by the requirement of finding the next story.  The unfortunate result of that push for programming is that the consumers can be overwhelmed by a pervasive sense that tragedy and catastrophe surround us in a world that is spinning out of our control.

There are two kinds of news stories.  Some news stories – like the terrorist attacks on 9/11 – literally blow up in your face.  There is no time to reflect.  The journalist scrambles to report the facts and the commentators analyze the story as new facts come to light and either affirm or challenge their previous analysis.  Other news stories – like the Watergate break in – force journalists to do in-depth investigation.  They must discover the facts and interpret the way they fit into a bigger picture.

News reporters must create a responsible base of operation.  They have to establish and maintain their credibility by reporting the truth of the story – even if the truth is something they don’t want it to be.  They must have respect for the story and the subjects of the story.  Most important of all, they must be able to gain the trust of their sources AND establish how much they can trust these sources.  The reporter’s job is to tell the story – not create it – so personal detachment is essential. 

Articles in this section will explore the ways that the news is reported and interpreted on broadcast outlets and in print.

June 17th 2008

I was in the middle of a business call when the muted television image caught my attention.  Tim Russert’s photo was captioned with the two numbers whose ominous implication can only indicate one thing: date of birth – date of death.  I stopped in mid-sentence and shouted “oh, no!” in a shaky voice.  The caller on the other end of the line asked me what happened.  In a sweep of emotion that would indicate the sudden loss of a close, personal friend, I shared the painful news that Tim Russert had just died.  Immediately, she echoed “oh no!” in the same shaky voice. 

To say that Tim Russert was beloved is an understatement.  Every broadcast journalist at every news outlet seems to have at least one story to demonstrate Russert’s kind and generous spirit.  Renowned for the depth of his preparation, he took pride in asking the toughest questions of our political leaders.  In so doing, Russert brought clarity to the cacophony of issues that serve as the operations manual for our country.  But it is not his professional performance that captured our hearts. 

The real reason we are all so shaken by the loss of Tim Russert is that he was public figure who best exemplified what a man can and should be in America today.  He was the loving son who was willing to look up to “Big Russ” long after his own career had surpassed his father’s achievements.  He was the loving father who found a way to juggle his schedule so he could attend school events, while never letting a day go by without telling his son how much he loved him.  The only brother of four sisters, Russert was so comfortable with women that he could fall head over heels in love with a strong woman who had a journalistic voice and opinions of her own. 

In short, this chubby fella with the mussed hair and bushy eyebrows was the Prince Charming we all dreamed we would find and marry and grow old with.  He was the best friend that every guy wants to have a man-crush on.  He was our tour-guide through the maze of western civilization.  He is the friend who was taken too soon by a heart that gave out. 

He will be missed.        


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