Thursday, August 11, 2005

RIP - Peter Jennings

I almost feel intimidated by writing a Blog eulogizing Peter Jennings. He was that commanding of a presence. If you are looking for a definitive summation of what we lost this week, go to Salon's article about Jennings:

Jennings's death comes at a time when the mainstream media needs Jennings more than ever. Sure, ABC News focuses on stuff like Natalee Holloway, OJ Simpson and tabloid marriages, but Jennings was an anchor that was determined to focus on international coverage. I saw ABC's tribute last night and I was struck at how even when he was tackling an easy target (big tobacco), he grilled his reporters when he heard that ABC news was being sued for the report. "What did you mess up?" Jennings reportedly asked a reporter. It turned out nothing, but he was that determined to get both sides of the story.

ABC also replayed the early hours of September 11, 2001. Jennings's stoicism in the face of chaos is something that should be played for all prospective broadcasting students. Still, he wasn't a robot. My stomach still sinks when I see the replay of the Towers collapsing. And when they replayed Jennings's reaction, to which he said in a shaky voice "Oh God...", you couldn't help but be moved and marvel at his composure - holding up in a time where the unimaginable kept happening while probably 100 million people were watching his broadcast.

Switch to FOX News - another easy target, but that does not mean they should get away with such journalistic travesties as Brit Hume's sarcastic remarks during his so-called newscast "Special Report with Brit Hume" or the talk about Gretta Van Sustran's ratings coup for her on-the-scene reporting of Natalee Holloway's disappearance. One example shows how Jennings's cool composure and objectivity (which he, of course, sometimes failed - but you could tell he at least made a good attempt at objectivity for every story he reported) is going out of style and the sad truth that as much as the American public complains about it, tabloid journalism sells.

Much has been made about the loss of Jennings reflecting the loss of the 'big 3' media. But that's doing a discredit to Jennings. His loss reflects a loss of the suave, matter-of-fact, newscaster, replaced by barking pundits, which NBC is already veering dangerously close toward.

RIP - Peter Jennings

Current music selections

Sufjan Stevens - Illinoise

The Verve - A Storm in Heaven

Marjorie Fair - Self Help Serenade

The Streets - Original Pirate Material


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