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Thursday, September 21, 2023

'A license to observe and share'


“A journalist enjoys a privileged position. In exchange for not being able to participate in the rough-and-tumble issues of a community, we are given license to observe it all, based on the understanding that we'll tell everyone what happens fairly and squarely. That's harder than it sounds.” – Bill Kurtis

If you’re a fan of NPR's  “Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me!” then you know that Bill Kurtis’s voice is one of the most recognizable on the air.  There, he is the announcer and scorekeeper (yes, they really have a scorekeeper) on the show.

The longtime broadcaster at WBBM-TV in Chicago, where he anchored “CBS Morning News,”  Kurtis also was the host of a number of the A&E Network’s crime and news documentary shows, including Investigative Reports, American Justice, and Cold Case Files
Born in Florida on this date in 1940, Kurtis began broadcasting at age 16 and continued doing it part-time while working his way through college and then law school in Kansas.  After finishing his law degree he was weighing options in the legal field while working part time at a Topeka station when one of the nation’s biggest storms struck the region.  He ended up on air for 24 straight hours, an effort lauded across the nation and leading to an offer from WBBM where he spent 30 years at the CBS affiliate before going to CBS nationally.

While many are lamenting that today’s youth seem ambivalent about journalism, he said he believes young people are looking for answers to the big questions and there's a bright opportunity ahead in the news business. 
“Think of it: television producers joining with newspapers to tell stories. It's journalism of the future.”

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