Billie Silvey
News Personalities
Here are half a dozen news people who have enriched my life and
been examples of good journalism.
April 2006
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Bill Moyers. Bill Moyers was born in Oklahoma and raised
in Texas.  He began his journalism career at age 16 as a cub
reporter on the
Marshall News Messenger.  Deputy Director
of the Peace Corps in the Kennedy administration, Moyers
served as special assistant to President Johnson from 1963-
1967.  He established an independent production company,
producing more than 300 hours of public affairs television
programming.

His books include
Moyers on America: A Journalist and
His Times
, A World of Ideas: Conversations with
Thoughtful Men and Women about American Life Today
and the Ideas Shaping Our Future
, and Genesis: A Living
Conversation
.

Always interested and interesting, always learning, he said, â
€œWhen I learn something new--and it happens every day--I
feel a little more at home in this universe, a little more
comfortable in the nest.�

Moyers has received numerous awards for excellence during
his 30 years in the media, including the “Gold Baton�
from Columbia University and more than 30 Emmys.

Perhaps the most important thing he’s done for me was to
host an interview show just after the September 11 terrorist
attacks.  On it, people talked about good and evil, heroism
and humanity in quiet tones that made me consider what I
believe and how the actions of others can’t shake the
deep roots of my faith.  At a time of so much talk of hatred
and violence, it was comforting and refreshing.
Katharine Graham. Katharine Meyer was born in 1917.  
Her father, a multimillionaire, bought the bankrupt
Washington Post in 1933. Katharine began working for the
Post in 1938.  She married in 1940, leaving in 1945 to raise
her family.

After her father’s death, control passed to her husband.  
When he committed suicide in 1963, Katharine assumed
control of the company.  In her 1998 memoir, she wrote:  â
€œI had very little idea of what I was supposed to be doing,
so I set out to learn.  What I essentially did was to put one
foot in front of the other, shut my eyes, and step off the edge.â
€�

When we moved to the Washington, D.C., area in the spring
of 1969, the
Washington Post, with Katharine Graham as
publisher and Ben Bradlee as managing editor, became our
daily newspaper. I was again impressed with the importance
of words--especially in articles interpreting the words used in
agreements between the State Department and foreign
governments.

But the most important time for Graham and the
Post came
two years later, when the
Post fought for the right to publish
excerpts from the Pentagon Papers about U.S. involvement
in Vietnam.  The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the
Post.

The next year, Graham supported her two reporters, Carl
Bernstein and Bob Woodward, who exposed the Watergate
break-in, ultimately leading to Nixon’s resignation.

Katharine Graham died in 2001, but she left an example as a
fearless woman standing for truth.
Jim Lehrer. Born in Wichita, Kansas, in 1934, Jim Lehrer
graduated from Victoria College in Texas and the University
of Missouri, the top journalism school of the time.  Following
military service in the Marines, he worked for a Dallas
newspaper for ten years, then hosted a local experimental
program on public television.

Transferring to Washington with PBS in 1972, he teamed up
with Robert MacNeil in 1973.  In 1975, they started The
MacNeil/Lehrer Report, which became the MacNeil/Lehrer
NewsHour, the first 60-minute evening news program on
television.  When MacNeil retired in 1995, the program was
renamed The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.

Lehrer received a presidential National Humanities Medal in
1999, and has moderated nationally televised candidate
debates for the last five presidential elections.  The author of
15 novels, two memoirs and three plays, he is married to a
novelist.  That’s another family that must love words.
Charlayne Hunter-Gault. Charlayne Hunter-Gault was
born in 1942 in Due West, South Carolina.  She was the
first African-American woman to graduate from the
University of Georgia in 1962.  A “Talk of the Townâ€�
reporter for the
New Yorker, she was on the staff of Trans-
Action
magazine before joining the investigative news team
at WRC-TV in Washington, D.C., and anchoring the local
evening news.

In 1968, she became a metropolitan reporter for the
New
York Times
, specializing in the urban African-American
community.  She received many awards during her ten years
on the paper, including the National Urban Coalition Award
for Distinguished Urban Reporting.  She also wrote for
The
New York Times Magazine
, Saturday Review, The New
York Times Book Review
, Essence and Vogue.

Joining The MacNeil/Lehrer Report in 1978 as a
correspondent, she became the NewsHour’s national
correspondent in 1983.  There she won two Emmys, and a
Peabody for excellence in broadcast journalism for
"Apartheid’s People," a series on South Africa.

Other awards include the 1986 Journalist of the Year
Award from the National Association of Black Journalists;
the 1990 Sidney Hillman Award; the
Good Housekeeping
Broadcast Personality of the Year Award; the American
Women in Radio and Television Award; and two awards
from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for excellence
in local programming.
Author of
In My Place, a personal memoir, she has
received more than two dozen honorary degrees.  After
twenty years with the NewsHour, she resigned in 1997 to
move to Johannesburg, South Africa, where her husband,
Ron Gault, is managing director of J. P. Morgan, S.A.

My most vivid memory of Charlayne is the strength and
humanity of her coverage of the first Gulf War.  She
managed to shed a lot of light on what was happening in a
part of the globe I knew little about, while being the kind of
reporter--and woman--I had only dreamed of being.
Otis Chandler. Otis Chandler was born in 1927 in Los
Angeles, the only son of
Los Angeles Times publisher
Norman Chandler and arts supporter Dorothy Buffum
Chandler.  He attended Stanford, where he became a
nationally ranked shot-putter.

His father put him through a seven-year executive training
program on the paper--beginning as an apprentice
pressman on the late night shift, then serving as a general
assignment reporter and junior executive in circulation.

In 1960, Chandler was appointed publisher of
The Times.
Surprised by the announcement, he said, “Wow!  If
someone were to hand me a shot-put right now, I think I
could put it 70 feet!�

The newspaper was considered one of the worst major
dailies in the country when Otis Chandler took over, but he
vowed to raise its stature.  In 1965, the
Times won a
Pulizer Prize for its coverage of the Watts Riots.  The
newspaper had 34 bureaus in the United States and
abroad, and by the 70s was considered among the best in
the country.

Retiring in 1980, he returned to object to a secret deal to
devote an edition of the
Times magazine to the Staples
Center in exchange for advertising.  In a public letter to
Times employees, Chandler called the behavior â
€œunbelievably stupid and unprofessional.â€�

When he died this February, I mourned him as a man who
recognized the future of Los Angeles and worked to give it
a first-rate newspaper.
Molly Ivins. Molly Ivins is an institution in my home state
of Texas, a nationally syndicated political columnist with a
knack for bringing out the humor in both the state and
national governments.

A native of Houston, she graduated from Smith College in
1966, attended Columbia University’s School of
Journalism, and studied for a year at the Institute of Political
Science in Paris.

Her biography, an example of her humor, reads as follows:
“Her first newspaper job was at the complaint
department of the
Houston Chronicle.  She rapidly
worked her way up to the position of sewer editor, where
she wrote a number of gripping articles about street
closings.  She went on to the
Minneapolis Tribune and
was the first woman police reporter in that city.  In the late
1960s, she was assigned to a beat called “Movements
for Social Change,� covering angry blacks, radical
students, uppity women and a motley assortment of other
misfits and troublemakers.�

Except for a stint on the
New York Times, she has spent
the rest of her career as a Texas journalist, serving as co-
editor of the
Texas Observer magazine, a columnist for the
Dallas Times-Herald and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

She became an independent journalist in 2001, writing a
column distributed by Creators Syndicate.

The author of six best-selling books, she has won
numerous prizes; has published articles in
Esquire, Harperâ
€™s
, and Atlantic; and appears on National Public
Radio.  I appreciate her for championing the first
amendment and proving that Texas doesn’t just breed
fools.
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