Monday, August 08, 2005

Death of an Anchorman

For those of you who haven't turned on a TV or looked at any news source of any kind in the last 12 hours, ABC News Anchor Peter Jennings died sometime last night.

I first read about it on the Drudge Report at about 3 am, when I wasn't sleeping, as usual, and it kinda bummed me out -- if I may be so unsophisticated.

I'm not going to lie and pretend that Peter Jennings was my hero and that I'm devastated by his death, because he wasn't and I'm not. But there was some sort of bond I felt with him if for no other reason than he's the only national news anchor I remember watching as a child.

For whatever reason, World News Tonight with Peter Jennings was the evening news of choice in the Repine home. So every night, usually over dinner, my parents, brother, and I would sit at the table and do a little 'family bonding' over the current events of the day. I later came to appreciate the experience because one, it was quality time with the family, and two, it was subtly educational and provided a good supplement to my in-school learning. In a lot of ways I feel like that gave me some sort of on advantage, because I later learned that a good many of my peers at the time did neither.

I likely didn't agree with many of Peter Jennings opinions, but that was fine because rarely did I get the sense that he was incorporating his beliefs into his reporting. The only time I lost respect for him was following Al Gore's concession speech in 2000, when he was visibly emotional and misty-eyed. But he couldn't help it...he was Canadian.

He also brought to the news a certain class and intelligibility. For my taste, Tom Brokaw doesn't articulate well enough, and Dan Rather was too insistent on incorporating quirky Southern phrases into his reporting. But Peter Jennings was always understandable -- and let's be honest, he had a pretty sweet voice.

All in all, Peter Jennings just seemed like a good person. Even though he was probably a flaming liberal in his private life, I felt like I could always trust his reporting. He just didn't seem like the kind of guy that would, oh I dunno, use forged documents to try to bash the President a few weeks before the election, for example.

The news media could use more people like Peter Jennings. It could really help their credibility. Peter Jennings was part of a rare and dying breed (pardon the pun), and his passing is another set back in the mainstream media's attempt to salvage some semblance of its former influence and relevance.


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