I stopped watching TV news quite a few years ago, but if I opted to turn it on, it was Peter Jennings who I turned to. Who can forget the endless hours after 9/11 that Peter Jennings was there “offering a soothing sense of continuity during a troubled time.”
“There are a lot of people who think our job is to reassure the public every night that their home, their community and their nation is safe,” he told author Jeff Alan. “I don’t subscribe to that at all. I subscribe to leaving people with essentially — sorry it’s a cliche — a rough draft of history. Some days it’s reassuring, some days it’s absolutely destructive.”
At a time in our history when it’s hard to break through the endless rhetoric and spin, Peter Jennings will be missed.
Jennings’ announcement four months ago that the longtime would begin treatment for lung cancer came as a shock.
“I will continue to do the broadcast,” he said, his voice husky, in a taped message that night. “On good days, my voice will not always be like this.”
But although Jennings occasionally came to the office between chemotherapy treatments, he never again appeared on the air.
UPDATE: From the NYTimes — Peter Jennings, Urbane News Anchor, Dies at 67
Mr. Jennings’s official ABC biography notes, for example, that as a foreign correspondent, he was “in Berlin in the 1960’s when the Berlin Wall was going up,” and there again, as an anchor, “in the 1990’s when it came down.” Similarly, he was on the ground in Gdansk, Poland, for the birth of the Solidarity labor and political movement, and later for the overthrow of the country’s Communist government.
In addition to reporting from nearly every major world capital and war zone, Mr. Jennings also managed to report from all 50 states, according to the network. He seemed to draw on that collective experience – as well as his practiced ability to calmly describe events as they unfolded live – not long after two hijacked planes struck the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Over the course of that day, and those that immediately followed, he would spend more than 60 hours on the air in what Tom Shales of The Washington Post, among other critics, praised as a tour de force of interviewing and explanatory broadcast journalism laced with undisguised bewilderment.
NY Times: Peter Jennings Slideshow