Friday, November 10, 2006


I've been thinking about Ed Bradley the past day and the contribution he made to journalism, TV, and all that.

I've been trying to make some sense of his legacy. One of the things I learned about in journalism school years ago was something called "participatory journalism". You know, on the one hand there's the journalism of being all standoffish and divorcing yourself from the story, all in the name of being objective. Then there are the people who actually throw themselves into a story full bore, to the point of almost risking being a part of the story.

When I think of Ed Bradley, I think of someone who engaged in "participatory journalism" in the way it ought to be waged. There was the time when he was reporting on people being rescued where he felt compelled to join in. Some will say this is crossing the ethical-journalistic line, being part of the story, but I think it's okay to get involved if you tell the world you're involved in the story, which is what Bradley did. He wasn't going to sit back and allow people to die--- he was going to help save lives because that was more important. And if he got it on film, well, so be it.

Bradley also went to Vietnam and almost lost his life there- another case of being very involved in a story, though perhaps not in the way he intended. And there were all the music stories he did. He hung with all the rock stars and loved jazz music, but at the same time he was a serious journalist. This was a guy who really left a personal imprint on TV news, a personal style.

I think if there's a lesson for journalists out there, I think Ed Bradley served as an inspiration to people that it is possible to throw yourself into your work and into your stories, and leave a distinct personal imprint on TV news.

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