You are hereWhere have all the journalists gone?
Where have all the journalists gone?
Andy Rooney has died. An original has left the building. Rooney took the ordinary and made it extraordinary. He opined about the mundane with a cantankerous wryness that brought Everyman to life. In television essays, a genre that he is credited to have invented, Rooney shook his prolific verbal fist at computers, meaningless headlines, and umbrellas. He didn’t consider himself great and hated any attention he got. Of what he did he stated: “I just wish insignificance had more stature.” Rooney made television useful. I, for one, hope that CBS retires his slot like Joe DiMaggio’s number 5.
When I sit in front of today’s box, I see no Andy Rooney’s. Instead, the words of one Hunter S. Thompson come to mind. “The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason.” How true. I do take heart in the changing architecture of the media. Innovation is fast becoming journalism’s Rubicon. Though it is true that the future lies in digital newsgathering, we must never forget that content is still king. Writing well is still the sinew of what we do. The core still should be the desire to get the story, and get it right. To grasp the devilish details so that the news is not thrown at the public as one discards the trash. When you turn on your television, open a newspaper, or website, how much of that do you see? Think. How many of you watch local news, with its daily dose of murder, politics and moronics? Or do you run screaming bloody murder towards cable? Thank God for the BBC.
Journalism used to be sacred. It had its dues and its costs. It was not all about graphics and polls, ratings and influence peddling. Newsrooms were living things, with ashtrays full of half lighted cigarettes and screaming producers. Not silent cubicles populated by warm bodies madly typing away. It was about boots on the ground and smelling the story. It was sacred because you lost your friends in the making of it, like my friend, Miguel Gil, who was killed in an ambush in Sierra Leone more than ten years ago. He was a very special person, with a face like a Goya painting, brilliant blue eyes and hands that moved like doves. A religious man, his work was more than a calling; it was akin to a prayer. A missionary with a camera. He was a member of the tribe who lived and breathed journalism, who was not afraid to put his life in danger in order to tell the story. A native of Barcelona, he rode his motorbike into Sarajevo knowing very little English, and ended up writing it better than most. I know I digress. I guess Miguel came to mind because, as with Rooney, I see very few Miguel's out there. Those that are willing to go into "territorio comanche." The originals. Too many of them have left the building.
This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box. There is a great and perhaps decisive battle to be fought against ignorance, intolerance and indifference. This weapon of television could be useful. Edward R Murrow
>Susanne Ramirez de Arrellano>
Susanne Ramirez de Arellano was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She received her BA from Tufts University in International Relations, her first Masters in Journalism from Boston University and her second Masters in Economics and Policy from the London School of Economics. She began her career with United Press International and became the first female head of the UPI bureau in El Salvador during the Civil War. She then worked with ABC News in New York and the Associated Press in London. For four years she served as news director of Univision Puerto Rico. She currently lives, works and writes from New York City.