Bill Moyers, veteran PBS journalist, has announced that he will be retiring from PBS in April of 2010. His shows, “Bill Moyers Journal” and “Now on PBS”, will conclude at the end of April. With the announcement of his retirement from weekly television and the honorable name he has made for himself, the topic of journalism of today naturally comes to mind. Despite the naysayers of our time and the few journalists that have regrettably stigmatized the reputation of all, we have been fortunate to have had many great journalists bring us stories, fresh from the “eye of the storm”. In the video below you’ll hear quick snippets from PBS’s Bill Moyers, Dan Rather, Bob Schieffer and Jim Lehrer. Each discuss what they deem to be the role of journalism.
The politics of journalism are a polarizing topic between proponents of any party; however, the role of journalism has never changed. As Bill Moyers succinctly states, the role is to find what’s “under the surface.” Roger Cohen, columnist for the New York Times, says it well,
Yes, journalism is a matter of gravity. It’s more fashionable to denigrate than praise the media these days. In the 24/7 howl of partisan pontification, and the scarcely less-constant death knell din surrounding the press, a basic truth gets lost: that to be a journalist is to bear witness.
The rest is no more than ornamentation.
To bear witness means being there — and that’s not free. No search engine gives you the smell of a crime, the tremor in the air, the eyes that smolder, or the cadence of a scream.
And so to Bill Moyers, Dan Rather, Bob Schieffer, Jim Lehrer and all of the journalists that have labored to provide for the American people the information that is “under the surface”, thank you.