On Retiring from the JOURNAL
Thanks to all of you who wrote to express your disappointment and dismay at hearing me say last week that the JOURNAL will be coming to an end with the April 30th broadcast. My team and I were touched by your messages, but I want to disabuse those of you who fear that we are being pushed off the air by higher-ups at PBS pointing to the door and demanding that we go. Not so. PBS doesn't fund the JOURNAL; our support comes from foundations and our sole corporate funder, Mutual of America. Together they've given me an independence rare for broadcast journalists. Our reporting and analysis trigger controversy from many quarters, as any strong journalism will, but not one - not one! - of my funders has ever mentioned to me the complaints directed their way. They would continue their support if I were to stick around.
I'm leaving for one reason alone: It's time to go. I'll be 76 in a few weeks, and while I don't consider myself old (my father lived into his 80s, my mother into her 90s) there are some things left to do that the deadlines and demands of a weekly broadcast don't permit. At 76, it's now or never. I actually informed my friends at PBS of my decision over a year ago, and planned to leave at the end of last December. But they asked me to continue another four more months while they prepare a new series for Friday night broadcast. I agreed, but said at the time - April 30 and not a week longer.
It wasn't easy deciding to close the JOURNAL. I like what I do, I cherish my colleagues, and my viewers remain loyal and engaged. I will miss the virtual community that has grown up around the broadcast - kindred spirits across the country whose unseen but felt presence reminds me of why I have kept at this work so long. But it has indeed been a long time (almost 40 years since I launched the original JOURNAL in 1971), and that's why I can assure you that my departure is entirely voluntary. "Time brings everything," an ancient wise man said. Including new beginnings.
But I still have two weeks before signing off. This Friday night my guests include Michael Copps, the FCC commissioner who later this year will hold public hearings around the country to get your views on net neutrality. In his nine years on the FCC Mike Copps has opposed the concentration of media ownership and advocated for an open Internet. He says the recent federal court decision restricting the Commission's authority over the net shouldn't be a deterrent to the FCC's pressing forward on assuring access for all to the Web. [Check out Bill Moyers' 2006 documentary on net neutrality, NET AT RISK.]
My second guest this Friday is another staunch public interest advocate, whose anger at the predatory tactics of Wall Street approaches the intensity of the Iceland volcano. As a federal regulator many years ago Bill Black helped put in jail a lot of culprits involved in the costly savings and loan scandal of the 1980s. His book about that experience - THE BEST WAY TO ROB A BANK IS TO OWN ONE - is one of my favorites. You first saw him on the JOURNAL a year ago when he voiced his suspicion that it was more than incompetence that brought down the financial sector in 2008 and plunged the economy into recession - it was greed. When it comes to financial shenanigans, Black is the modern equivalent of Sherlock Holmes. He's been on the trail of "liars' loans" - loans issued without verifying income. He'll have more to say about "liars' loans" on the JOURNAL Friday. But in the meantime, you can check out his testimony before Congress yesterday on the fall of Lehman. He has a lot more to say on the JOURNAL Friday night - for you Tweeters, his 140-character message is simple: "Lock-em up!"
See you Friday.
© Public Affairs Television 2010