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Former copyboy, Scott Pelley’s optimism in the face of ‘bad information’

Last week, Scott Pelley, anchor of CBS News made some timely observations about the news business. Which, we should not forget is indeed a business. Pelley was awarded the Walter Cronkite award for Excellence in Journalism by the Cronkite School at ASU.

Now I regularly watch his broadcast, so I admire his candor  when he observed that:

“Never in our history have we had so much bad information.”

Let that sink in, against the other platitudes we hear that ‘never in our history have we had so much information at our fingertips’ etc. In 2013, Pelley warned that the media was getting the Big Stories wrong, over and over again. How prescient, considering most media misread the 2016 electorate. They are, after all our filters, and when their filters get trapped in the same gunk, we lose our faith in them.

At the ASU event he went further to warn, “We’re in our digital citadels, unchallenged by ideas. Biased reporting closes minds. Journalism is meant to open them.” Pelley, kicked off his career at age 15, as a ‘copyboy’ at a newspaper in Lubbock, Texas. If you’ve never heard of the job of ‘copyboy’ this person was, to put it nicely, a delivery boy who was given a sheet of butcher paper (on which stories were then written), to deliver it to the sub-editors’ desk.

Like Kelley, Cronkite was also optimistic about delivering the truth, alluring to the movie Network, when he said:

“We’ve got to throw open our windows and shout out these truths” 

Just for larks, here’s Walter Cronkite, as he signed off on March 6th, 1981.

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2016 in Journalism, Media, Technology

 

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Quotes for the week ending 18 July, 2009

As we say farewell to ‘the most trusted man in America, I wanted to dedicate this week’s Quotes of the Week to Uncle Walter, a role model for me, and for many in journalism, and storytelling.

In seeking truth you have to get both sides of a story.”

“Everything is being compressed into tiny tablets. You take a little pill of news every day – 23 minutes – and that’s supposed to be enough.”

“Television [is] a high-impact medium. It does some things no other force can do-transmitting electronic pictures through the air. Still, as an explored, comprehensive medium, it is not a substitute for print.”

“Objective journalism and an opinion column are about as similar as the Bible and Playboy magazine”

“It wasn’t just that he narrated the spikes in modern history …Mr. Cronkite’s air of authority, lightly worn and unquestioned, was unusual even then.”

Allesandra Stanley, in The New York Times, about Walter Cronkite, who died on Friday.

“And that’s the way it is.”

Great summaries of his life here:

CBS News

Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication

 
 

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