Edward R. Murrow was a news icon, NBC anchor Tom Brokaw noted, but gossip
maven Walter Winchell was just as influential and probably had a bigger
Brokaw, the 2002 recipient of the Radio-Television News Directors
Association's "Paul White Award," told his audience journalism has always
faced the pressure from "the lowest common denominator of fear and titillation."
As a teen-age radio announcer in South Dakota, Brokaw said, he had to quickly
follow reports of fire and death with a word from a local insurer. What people
want, he added, is the serious news of war, race, immigration, business,
health, education and environment, but "in too many newsrooms, those stories are
regarded as too boring ... too risky."
The journalist's place, Brokaw said, "is at the intersection of form and
substance. We have mastered the form," making it imperative to use that form
In the future, Brokaw predicted, the best journalists will be those who
provide "the most light, not the most heat."
"Our viewers take us seriously," Brokaw said, and journalists best fulfill
their mission "when we return that favor."