Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Charlie Rose and Jeff Marks awarded at National SPJ Conference

Story and photo by Tom McKee, President

Don’t let anything get in the way of uncovering the truth.

Know the power of questions, curiosity and confrontation.

All journalists are investigators, whether it’s in sports or news.

Those were messages from the two long-time broadcasters — Charlie Rose and Jeff Marks — in remarks to the Excellence In Journalism ’16 Conference in New Orleans.

Rose, co-host of CBS This Morning, a contributor to 60 Minutes and host of “Charlie Rose” on PBS, received the Paul White Award from RTDNA — the Radio Television Digital News Association.

Marks, who was WDBJ’s General Manager when two employees were shot and killed on the air and currently is Gray Television’s Director of Talent and Development, was given the John F. Hogan Distinguished Service Award.

“Starve to know the truth — what is real and what is not real,” Rose said in accepting the award honoring the first president of CBS News.

“Have a dogged determination to seek the truth,” Marks commented after being presented his award named for Hogan,  the first president of the RTNDA — the Radio Television News Directors Association.

Even though Marks said the on-air shootings “overwhelmed us all” and caused modifications in coverage, buildings and reactions to threats,  he maintained journalism is a safe profession.

"That horrible incident happened not because they were journalists, but because a former employee took out his anger and his depravity,” he said.  “The only tie to journalism was the fact that he was able to play out his final delusion on live television."

“They made me proud and they still do,” Marks added.

When hiring people, Marks says he shuns candidates who say they “like people.”  Instead he wants those with curiosity, intelligence and enjoy digging beneath the surface of a story.

“Our preservation as a society depends on people who look for the truth,” he said.

Rose acknowledged that seeking truth around the world can be dangerous and there are people on the front lines every day risking their lives to find it.

“What’s happening in the world matters and it matters to you,” he told conference attendees.

Sitting in Walter Cronkite’s chair at CBS in Rose’s mind is a remarkable kind of reverence for the man who was once tabbed as America’s most trusted person.

“It is a marvelous way to spend a life,” he said.  "I know of no better place to pursue truth — to find stories that demand our attention."

Rose added, 'No one has had more fun, enjoyed it more and worked harder than I."

However, he had advice for those currently in journalism and those seeking to make it their life’s work.

While there are new tools for reporters, producers, editors and writers to use, the same standards for clarity, accuracy and honesty

The biggest concerns Rose cited are not losing the significance or context of a story plus using the right words.

“A picture can tell a story of 1,000 words, but one word can sum up 1,000 pictures,” he said.  “One word can turn a good sentence into a great sentence."

Interviews, Rose intoned, make the story by adding life, intimacy, humor and soul.

If journalists combine the skills of good interviews and writing plus defining, debating, exploring and exposing issues, they’ll be on the front lines.

“We will be the last best reason for a hopeful future,” he concluded.