20 July 2013

Helen Thomas RIP

I wanted to be many things growing up -- paleontologist, translator at the United Nations, oceanographer, actor. I tried my hand at a lot of these things, but always came back to writing. There are two people who I admired growing up: Edward R. Murrow and Helen Thomas (1920 - 2013).

It was because of Murrow that I got into radio news. I wrote and produced documentaries because he did. He touched millions of people through his war reporting and his later documentaries (radio and television).

It was because of Thomas that I got into writing for newspapers and magazines. Every time there was a presidential press conference, she was there. She always had insightful, probing questions. Many of her questions -- a journalist trying to get to the truth -- got her in trouble. I admired her for having the strength to ask those very questions.

I think our profession is diminished greatly at her loss; but our profession has been losing its luster over the years because of so-called journalists spouting opinions as facts. Now, understandably, the public doesn't know whom to trust, so they suspect every journalist -- the real ones and the pretenders.

The job of a journalist is not to make friends; it is to interview people, gather facts, put information into a timeline so that people can understand what is going on. A lot of people have lost sight of this, but Thomas never did.

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