August 31, 2010

Remembering A True Journalist

Posted: 12:01 AM ET

Daniel Schorr was a journalistic legend.  His career began shortly after WWII.  He was one of CBS's "Murrow's Boys," with CNN from day-one, and ended his brilliant career at NPR.  While at CNN, Donna Rockwell was one of his producers.  Sadly, Schorr died earlier this year, but on this, his 94th birthday, Schorr's producer and friend reflects back on a remarkable man.

By Donna Rockwell

Daniel Schorr taught me everything I know. Well, almost everything.

The famous Murrow Boy, who would have turned 94 today, is a Jungian archetype of the news junkie, a patron saint of journalism, a deity of telling-it-like-it-is reporting, a journalist’s journalist. Dan was still a regular voice on NPR even up until days before his death on July 23 — as a nonagenarian, nonetheless. And those 90+ years should be some of the most celebrated in journalism, as Dan stood strongly for the very principles that are too often overlooked in today’s age of 24-hour, constant online news coverage.

Thirty years ago, Dan hired me as a 23-year-old straight out of journalism school — surely the latest in a long-line of short-lived assistants. These were the first few days of the fledgling Cable News Network (CNN), June of 1980, and Dan chose me as his next young hope. Unlike his first attempts, Dan and I clicked. I was giddy at the opportunity to be a founding member of Chicken Noodle News, as we were dubbed by competing network news executives who watched our round-the-clock coverage with a condescending smirk. (Little did Dan — or anyone else there at the time — fully comprehend the slippery slope that was being created with this experiment for those journalistic principles he cared most deeply about.)

Dan was the senior correspondent of CNN then, the sage interpreter of the day’s events from whom anchor Bernard Shaw often sought explanation and analysis for the meaning of the world’s latest cataclysm or political blowup. Dan, with a full career covering almost everyone and almost everything, was counted on for context.

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