10.03.2008

Those were the days, my friend

Remember Bernie Shaw? He was the face of CNN back when news was delivered straight and taken seriously.

Bernard Shaw, Peter Arnett and John Holliman were the three sterling journalists holed up on the ninth floor of Baghdad’s Al-Rashid Hotel in 1991, giving the world a front-row seat to the Allied bombing of the city. Their coverage marked an historical event: the first coverage of a war live from both sides.

Peter Arnett was one of those voices silenced at the beginning of the Iraq War - for daring to do the same.

John Holliman was killed in an Atlanta car crash in 1998 at age 49.

Having been with CNN since its launch as a 24-hour news network, Bernie Shaw retired as its principal anchor in 2001, just six months before what would have been the biggest story of his award-winning journalism career.

It was good to hear Shaw’s voice as he joined CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in “The Situation Room” Thursday afternoon to discuss the moderator’s role in the upcoming Biden-Palen debate.

Bernie and I are old-school journalists, inspired at an early age by heroes of a profession which we saw as noble – The Fourth Estate to which we would aspire. He, a Marine who came face to face with Walter Cronkite, and I, a little kid awed by comic-strip reporter Brenda Starr. Both with an appreciation of history and the impact of the printing press.

Perhaps that’s why his words touch me so when Blitzer asked him to critique media coverage of the current presidential campaign.

“Well,” Shaw replied, “my lone regret is that there has been some sloshing over from just straight journalism, news reporting and hard news reporting to actually enabling writers and people on the air - television and radio - out of one side of their mouths to report the news and out of the other to actually tell readers and listeners and viewers what they personally think about the news. I am an old-fashioned journalist when it comes to that. My idols were Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite. I don't believe people should know my personal opinions. I have strong personal opinions, and they have no place in reporting the news and certainly not in reporting presidential news, but I am staggered at what I see and read and observe on the Internet.”

Imagine, Bernie, a whole new generation coming along with no idea that’s the way it used to be.

Just two old journalists sharing a moment.

Semper Fi.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow! You have been saying this for quite some time. I am so glad that it was aired so publicly. I really enjoyed the debate because for once I was not watching a political football game. (No one was in a side box making comments on things that I had just seen.) I can't wait for the presidential debate on the 7th.

Frodo Beaverus said...

Frodo, for the sake of perspective, notes that it was the sainted Mr.Cronkite who uttered an on-air opinion about the Vietnam War, in the midst of his evening newscast, which Lyndon Johnson later admitted demonstrated the futility of his own policy in the determination of public opinion. It is easy to remember what we want to remember and forget that which doesn't add to our arguments. Journalism has changed, technology has changed the way we all get information, and Frodo thinks change is good. He is also glad that today's talking heads wear short skirts.

B.J. said...

Mr. Frodo. I have had three phone calls today – one which woke me from a much-needed nap – asking who this pompous know-it-all “Frodo” is. Don’t worry, your identity is safe with me. I just told them it is the nature of the hobbit to be egocentric. BJ

Anonymous said...

B.J. - You know it's not in my nature of late to let sleeping dogs lie. Good zing to doodoo, er frodo. He's had that coming. I just hope when he comes out from under that rock he's been under (throughout) this whole campaign, we don't have to take the shock paddles to him. Can't believe his crap about just seeing things from one side. PLEASE! Take a look in the mirror, buddy. Signed, A Democrat with Common Sense.

Anonymous said...

BJ, you aren't the only one who misses the Cronkite, Murrow and Bernie Shaw type of reporting. These talking heads who try to outshout each other is, in my opinion, further evidence of the dumbing down of America and respect for our fellow human beings.

I watched the debates last night in replay and feel like Sen. Biden gave Sen. McCain a Royal Maverick Ass whoopin', and brought Gov. Palin down to size.

A few minutes ago I heard the jury verdict handed down to OJ Simpson, guilty on all twelve (12) counts. AS the Greek said: The mill of the gods grind slowly, but exceedingly fine.

Thanks for sharing your journalistic talents and memories with us.

Jan

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