Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Why the Free Press is Important

Earlier this week, Karen and I attended a luncheon in downtown Seattle hosted by City Club and WSU Murrow College of Communication. It featured the 2009 Edward R. Murrow Lifetime Achievement Award winners Helen Thomas & Bob Schieffer, who were on their way to Pullman to receive these awards and take part in the annual Murrow Symposium.

During a discussion with Kathy Goertzen, they expounded on the growing importance of a responsible, free press as we witness the demise of newspapers. TV and blogs don't count because one is just in it for the sound bites and the other has no accountability. (Depends on the day--which one is which.) It was fascinating to hear Helen & Bob recount their experiences in the White House Press Corp, dating back to the Kennedy administration.

What became so clear to me is how those White House reporters have a front seat to history and are really the only ones who are the eyes and ears of the American people within the isolated cocoon of the White House. We depend on their skill and scrutiny to interpret what is going on in our government. And while Helen Thomas may be in her 80's, she's as feisty as ever. That's the kind of person I want in there asking the questions.

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