I decided early in life I wanted to be in radio and television. At first, I thought sports broadcasting was my calling. But when I entered the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas in 1973, Watergate was in full swing and we all wanted to be the next Woodward and Bernstein. At least I did.
That was until I began to learn about Edward R. Murrow. I was just a bit too young to have seen Murrow in his prime on CBS News. But as I learned about him and began to study his career as part of my journalism studies, it became clear to me that Murrow was the foundation on which great broadcast journalism was built. He, of course was most remembered for his showdown with Senator Joseph McCarthy documented in last year's great film, Good Night and Good Luck.
I wrote one of my best papers in college on that fascinating period of history. But what I found more interesting were his days on the radio during World War Two as he reported from London during the darkest days of the ceaseless bombing of that great city.
I'm moved to write about Murrow tonight because of a great PBS program airing this week as part of the American Masters series. I hope you have a chance to see it. His was a life that not only changed his profession, but led to changes in society as well. There were few issues he did not take on over the years on his famous "See It Now" program or later in productions that redefined the television documentary. His most famous documentary was Harvest of Shame which documented the horrible existence of America's migrant workers in 1960.
I end this post with a line from Murrow's closing comments in his program that brought down Joe McCarthy. These are words we need to continue to think about even today:
"Let us not confuse dissent with disloyalty."
Edward R. Murrow was a true citizen of the world. Take some time to read more about him. It will be worth your time.