Our site deals exclusively with works of fiction across the media. Getting the chance to hear broadcast journalism legend Dan Rather speak about his life and career was worth crossing the divide. Rather was at Book Expo America to promote his newly released memoir Rather Outspoken. The book covers everything from his early childhood through his forced departure from CBS News.
Rather began the panel by talking about his pre internet and pre television childhood. He grew up in a rough neighborhood in the Houston, Texas area. He loved listening to the news and other radio programming. His parents supported his desire to become a reporter. In elementary school, his teacher allowed him to write a one page school newspaper.
During middle school, he developed rheumatic fever and was bedridden for over a year. “Radio became my constant companion, ” Rather said. His persistent pursuit of his dream not only gave him the motivation to recover from illness but to realize his career goals.
Two other “small moments” defined his early life and shaped his later career. One of his professors talked him out of becoming a football star. A lady in the local park (later revealed to be a social worker) introduced him to new worlds at the local library.
Rather started his career not in broadcast but in newspaper writing. Eventually he got a job working at a radio station in Huntsville, Alabama. In 1962, Rather started working for CBS News. On his first day he met his childhood reporting idol, Charles Collingsworth. He realized that he would have to “raise his game and raise it a lot” if he wanted to advance his career.
His reporting not only shaped the industry for years to come but also shaped American opinion on several historic events. Rather invented using radar and maps for hurricane coverage. CBS was called was called the “Colored Broadcasting Station” by racists because Rather and his colleagues covered many Civil Rights era protests. Tears came to his eyes as he recalled seeing white cops turn high pressure fire hoses on black women and children. Rather also covered the “unspeakable horrors of the Vietnam War” and the “widespread criminal conspiracy” of the Watergate scandal. He has interviewed every US president since Truman, countless celebrities, and many world leaders.
This panel was the most informative one I have ever attended at a convention. Hearing the stories of someone who has lived through historical events is so much better than reading a book.
While this post wasn’t very well received by our readers, Dan Rather retweeted TheDailyHeyNow on Twitter. My coverage of BEA 2012 also included a post on <a href=“http://thedailyheynow.net/post/24590552136/bea-2012-graphic-novelists-of-2012-panel”>influential graphic artists.</a> Articles originally posted June 7 & 8, 2012.