Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bob Edwards: Journalists "Are Supposed To Be Surrogates For The Public."

BOB EDWARDS HOSTED shows on National Public Radio for more than 24 years, garnering more than 13 million listeners per week by the end of his tenure there.

In 2004, he was demoted from host to correspondent, under controversial circumstances (one website believes that Edwards was punished for his criticism of the government, and more specifically, the FCC's deregulation of media ownership ... more on that below).

Listeners were really upset. Within two months after Edwards was taken off the anchor desk, NPR received more than 35,000 complaints via letters, emails and phone calls.

A few months later, Edwards took his talents to satellite radio.

On Sirius XM Radio's “The Bob Edwards Show," Edwards performs long-form, in-depth interviews with authors, politicians, journalists, celebrities and other people relevant to the news of the day.

Shortly after creating his new show, Edwards was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame.

In addition to being a radio host, Edwards has written two books - Fridays with Red, and Edward R. Murrow and the Birth of Broadcast Journalism.

Here are a few of the statements Edwards made in a commencement speech he gave at the University of Kentucky in 2003, when he made remarks this website alleges may have ended Edwards' time at the government subsidized NPR:

• "No one can be blamed these days for not knowing what passes for a news program or who might be a legitimate journalist. The old rules have been tossed out the window. The definitions have no meaning anymore. There used to be lines no serious journalist ever crossed. Those lines are pretty blurry these days. Television hires political operatives and makes them anchors. CNN got one of its anchors from the cast of "NYPD Blue."

• "The owners of today's media, who are business tycoons, not journalists, would like us (journalists) to be good representatives of the corporate brands. But that is not our job. We are supposed to be surrogates for the public -- the eyes and ears of citizens who don't have the access we have. We are to hold public officials to account, and if that makes them angry at us -- well, that just goes with our job, and we have to take it. If pointed questions make public officials squirm -- well, that just goes with their job, and they're supposed to take it. That's the price that comes with the privilege of serving the people."

• "Public officials are measured by how well they perform in times of crisis. If they can't take the heat, they should be in another line of work. It should be the same way with journalists."

(Photo via PBase)


Tori said...

This makes me wonder, if the old rules regarding "what makes a journalist" are obsolete, how do we know how to conduct ourselves/ what our place in society is as journalists? Is it all an individual choice or are there still standards that need to be upheld (even if they are different than they used to be). Hopefully we'll get to discuss that in class tomorrow.

Geo said...

That's a great question. Be sure to ask that!

- George
(the teacher who wishes he had an answer)

crystal nyman said...

I thought it was interesting to hear his experience with posting on facebook that because he had a bad day the people assumed he had been fired, and then stretched to the extent that he was unhappy with his job. Needless to say, this wasn't true, but he said be careful with what you post, ANYWHERE, because blogs and bloggers can spread the wrong message.