Posted by Andy “A Viewer Like You” Bell
Say it ain’t so Joe. Or rather, say it ain’t so Jim.
In a world of increasing information and decreasing comprehension, the glimmers of light are few and far between.
One of the brightest beams is about to bow out.
His name is Jim Lehrer and after 36 years as part of the “PBS Newshour” in its various incarnations he’s more or less signing off as an on-screen presence.
The “Newshour” is variously described a dull, boring, ridiculously civil or the best thing on TV.
Take your pick, I know I am on the side of Jim and his angels.
The show was born out of coverage by the US public TV network PBS’ telecasting of the Congressional hearings into the Watergate kerfuffle in the early 1970s.
The two presenters of that, Jim & Canadian Robert MacNeil, thought more of the same kind of sensible and engaged reporting might be welcomed. And so the “Newshour” was sorta kinda born.
The show sets the bar both high AND low. And I mean that as a compliment.
The idea is to debate, discuss and find out things.
In the current media landscape (AKA bells, whistles and all that jazz) that’s both revolutionary and fundamental.
I fell in love with the “MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour” at first glance in the early 80s and my passion remains positively volcanic.
Not only do I learn things from it, but I find myself intrigued by things I thought I had no interest in at all.
It’s the way they tell ’em.
The art of story telling is under assault from fact-collation and information-aggregation, but it is often at its most irresistible on the “Newshour”.
And everything is based on a set of values articulated by Jim Lehrer.
His rules & regs for journos may appear obvious, but have a look at them and then compare & contrast them with what we watch, hear & read on a regular basis – you may feel queasy.
The “Newshour” is a world away from the media landscape where “Q scores” rule the roost. (For more on this rating of who’s up & who’s down have a look at the Australian newspaper.)
It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but just when you think you can’t take another discussion on the Connecticut education system or the tomato industry in Costa Rica something will come out and beguile you.
Here’s a couple for starters.
Familiar name, unfamiliar skill.
Poetry in the “now”.
Never get bored with a big story.
We in Australia are lucky enough to see the “Newshour” on SBS, but its constantly stellar work is there for all who care about finding out thanks to its website.
Jim Lehrer represents what the news media can and should be. Catch him while you can, but rest assured his legacy will be around for quite a while.
Thank you and good night.