Magazine article Humanities

Reporting the World: Jim Lehrer

Magazine article Humanities

Reporting the World: Jim Lehrer

Article excerpt

AMERICANS OLD ENOUGH TO REMEMBER the Nixon administration became acquainted with journalist Jim Lehrer during the Watergate scandal. His face, his voice are inextricably linked to the dark days of Watergate because it was he, along with colleague Robert McNeil, who monitored the hearings day after day, solemnly reporting live on the ever-mounting evidence and ultimately on the resignation of a president.

Watergate-and the nation's hunger for news of the hearings-tilled the soil for the role Lehrer would later play on what is perhaps best known as PBS's McNeil/Lehrer Report, then a half-hour nightly news show that provided in-depth analyses of the issues of the day. Today, Americans still seek out Lehrer on what is now The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer for insights and information on the issues of the day that are unavailable on traditional news programs.

Known for his journalistic integrity and thorough knowledge of the issues, Lehrer has won numerous awards for his journalistic contributions, including several Emmys, the George Foster Peabody Broadcast Award, the Allen White Foundation Award for Journalistic Merit, and the University of Missouri School of journalism's Medal of Honor. In addition, he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1991.

As a teenager, Lehrer decided he wanted to be both a journalist and a creative writer. After graduating from the University of Missouri and serving three years in the Marine Corps, Lehrer pursued his journalism career, working as a reporter for the Dallas Morning News, and later working as a reporter and editor for the Dallas Times-Herald.

In the late sixties he left print journalism, but his transition to public broadcasting was not immediate. Lehrer had written a novel, Viva Max, which was made into a film. "I left the newspaper business to write novels full time," he says, but KERA-TV, the public television station in Dallas, offered him a job as a public affairs consultant. There, Lehrer wrote a proposal for an experimental news program, to be called Newsroom. "We got the Ford Foundation to fund it, so I was suddenly back to working and I was suddenly in television," Lehrer says.

In 1972, Lehrer took a job with PBS, where he first began working with Robert McNeil, with whom he would later co-anchor the McNeil/Lehrer Report.

In 1974, Lehrer and McNeil covered the Watergate hearings and, a year later, the Robert McNeil Report-with Lehrer as the Washington correspondent-was born. …

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