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It’s that enthusiasm, that passion for what you’re doing, that is most important.
Charles Kuralt, CBS News
Today we celebrate the new year — a good time to look back on what has transpired during the year just ended. In 2008, I was honored to share responsibility for selecting Newsroom Magazine’s best of 2008 with colleague Gordon Shaffer. Regular readers will have seen some or one of our Best Of Year selections reprised between Christmas and New Years. As I looked back, thinking of the many fine articles that Newsroom has published in 2008, I recalled three pieces that struck me as being particularly relevant to journalism today.
This article originally appeared on Newsroom Magazine January 1, 2009.
It was written by contributor John Haueisen in celebration of his favorite broadcast journalist, CBS News venerable and loveable Charles Kuralt. On reflection, Haueisen’s reflections on Kuralt seemed an especially good way to start 2013.
Newsroom Magazine Publisher Robert Butche spoke Kuralt’s musings on a far more cohesive and comfortable America from Kuralt’s original scripts.
Perhaps readers will remember one or more of these: “Where Are the Responsible Adults?” ( Jan. 24, 2008 ), “No Word On…” ( April 1 ), “Television News Outgunned, Outclassed” ( November 3 ). As I reread these pieces, curiously I found that all three had something in common: they shout out about the dearth of literate and credible journalists such as the late Charles Kuralt.
Here’s a short collection of Charles Kuralt’s colorful Dateline America radio scripts
Boone North Carolina
New York City
New York Ancestors
Spoken By Robert Butche
Back sometime in the early 1990s, no Sunday morning was complete without tuning in to Charles Kuralt’s morning program–you may remember the set–with the large logo of a stylized sun. During one of those morning programs, I heard comments that I was certain were telling only one side of the story on a volatile issue. Yes, this was back in the days before e-mail, so I rushed to my stationery and penned what I felt was a rather eloquent plaintive protest proclaiming that I thought the topic had not been adequately covered.
In today’s journalistic world, such a letter most often would be dismissed and discarded, or at best, a form letter or email would be sent, thanking me for my opinion, and perhaps disingenuously assuring me that it would be noted.
That was not the case in the journalism of Charles Kuralt. A few days after I mailed my angry letter, Charles Kuralt telephoned me. He asked if he could read part of my letter on the air, and he wanted to clarify exactly how to pronounce my rather unusual German name. “How-eyes-zen,” I told him carefully.
To my delight, Charles Kuralt followed through, and on the next program, there he was reading my letter, and expressing empathy and understanding at what had earlier been only a “partial telling” of the story on a hot issue.
As so many articles in Newsroom have pointed out, today’s journalism is driven by a “Ken & Barbie” approach to make the news cute, catchy, and generally never thought-provoking. As journalists ask themselves where their audience has gone, we have to ask them, “Where are the responsible adults?” We ask them where are the Charles Kuralts who not only check and recheck their facts, but welcome other perspectives, and maintain a true respect for their audience.
I do miss Kuralt. But he was just one man “doing journalism” the way he thought it should be done. Thus, as I look back on the excellence of so many pieces appearing in Newsroom Magazine, I have to think of Charles Kuralt, and ask, “Where are the responsible adults? Where are there still poets in broadcasting?
We miss you Charles.
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