Tuesday, January 19, 2010

CBS's Bob Schieffer -- No substitute for reporters

“There’s no substitute for a news reporter,” Bob Schieffer, CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent, told the New York Press Club during the first of its “Living Legends” speaker series.

Schieffer started his journalism career as a police reporter at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and became the first reporter from a Texas newspaper to correspond from Vietnam. He joined CBS News in 1969, has covered the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department and Capitol Hill, anchored the CBS Saturday and Sunday Night News and now moderates Face The Nation, which airs on Sunday mornings.

“Sunday morning is different than any other time on TV,” Schieffer said. “Face the Nation is one of the oldest programs on TV, has changed the least and still has big audiences.” Schieffer says he still warns the show’s guests, “If you’re not prepared to answer questions, don’t come on. And not answering a question is an answer.”

But Washington, D.C. has changed significantly, Schieffer said. “When I started at CBS most members of Congress didn’t even have press secretaries. Now, all politicians are very sophisticated in how they manage information which sometimes makes it harder to get the truth.”

The latest Presidential Debates were fun, Schieffer said. “Obama is so composed, which is one of the reasons he won.”Being successful in the news business can be as simple as being there.

“When the phone rings, answer it,” Schieffer said, recalling the moment on November 22nd, 1963 when he answered the phone and on the other end of the line was the mother of Lee Harvey Oswald, the accused assassin of President John F. Kennedy.

The conversation resulted in exclusive information on the assassination. “I’ll never forget that day,” Schieffer said. The news business has changed dramatically due to the internet. “I’m worried about where information is coming from,” Schieffer said, adding that the media is driven to get stories out so quickly that accuracy is suffering.

“Some websites don’t always follow journalistic standards. There’s stuff getting circulated that’s just not true and it’s hard to pull that back.”The hard reality, he said, is that because there are now so many outlets, it is difficult to draw the large numbers of viewers individual broadcasts once attracted. Consequently, how to find the revenue for news coverage to continue is a good question, Schieffer said.

Schieffer’s perspectives on more than 40 years in the news business are related in his latest book, "Bob Schieffer’s America." The book includes 171 of Schieffer’s commentaries on subjects such as “How Washington Works – and Doesn’t,” the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building and waiting for the Supreme Court to decide the outcome of the 2000 election.

For more information on Face the Nation go to www.cbsnews.com/sections/ftn/main3460.shtml

# # #

Pam Snook Public Relations 917-544-1923 pamvsnook@gmail.com, http://www.pamsnook.blogspot.com/