I had the great pleasure this morning of listening to Roger Mudd, famed broadcast journalist and Washington correspondent for CBS News and NBC News and speaker at the Virginia Festival of the Book Business Breakfast. Also, to my great thrill, I had the opportunity to ask a question before the audience and meet him at his book signing after the event. (Pssst, Loren: there’s a package on its way to you!)
Mudd, at 80, has written his first book, The Place to Be, hence today’s appearance, the first on his book tour. The book, and Mudd’s highly entertaining talk, chronicles the history of broadcast journalism during his era as a reporter beginning in the early sixties and ending in the mid-nineties. It’s fascinating to think about the way television journalism was produced years ago, with film that had to be flown back to New York for the nightly news; audio transmitted over phone lines (that sometimes worked, and sometimes did not), typewriters, mimeograph machines and other dated technology that evokes images of vast, noisy newsrooms filled with the clickety-clack of reporters hard at work.
When I had the chance, I (of course) asked Mudd to address his opinion of citizen journalists and bloggers and their effect on today’s news industry. Mudd shared with the audience his respect for Salon and Slate; and dismissed Drudge Report for what it is: rumor. He pointed to the story bloggers broke that ultimately ended the career of Mudd’s colleague, Dan Rather. He said, “There are 12 million bloggers out there, many of them ranting, but there’s some serious journalism being done as well.” Mudd finished by sharing his appreciation for the tools we have today that make gathering, producing and delivering the news more efficient and timely. And he should know; he’s used every tool of the industry from the late fifties to the present.
I feel very honored to have had the opportunity to hear and meet this living historian of journalism. If you have a chance, pick up Mudd’s book and let me know your thoughts. Also, if you’re in Virginia, don’t miss the Festival of the Book, with over 150 programs for readers and writers it is, in my opinion, one of the finest annual events in Charlottesville. For more blog coverage of the event, check out C’ville Words.