The day an eighth-grade Bob Schieffer saw his name in print on the front page of his junior high school’s newspaper, he knew he wanted to be a journalist.
Schieffer, news correspondent and anchor of CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” spoke with journalism students Monday about his experiences in the field.
“Those of you who want to be reporters, you will never be sorry,” he said earlier at a media briefing. “It is the most fun that you could have. That’s the only reason you should go into any profession, because it’s fun. If you have fun, the rest of it takes care of itself.”
Schieffer will be awarded the 2013 Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism at the 30th annual Cronkite Award Luncheon on Tuesday, adding to his collection of seven Emmy’s, two Sigma Delta Chi Awards and a Broadcaster of the Year Award among others, said Mark Lodato, assistant dean and news director at the journalism school and moderator of Monday’s discussion.
The event, which took place in the First Amendment Forum at the journalism school, followed a question and answer format, with Lodato asking the first few questions, and students from the audience asking the rest.
The first question prompted Schieffer to tell the story about his involvement in the Kennedy assassination, when he drove Lee Harvey Oswald’s mother to Dallas from Fort Worth, Texas, where he reported for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
While in Dallas, he accompanied the mother to the police station, and was given a small office with a phone. Schieffer said no one had asked if he was a reporter.
“In those days, we never told them who we were,” he said.
He almost had the opportunity to interview Oswald, when finally a police officer asked who he was. After Schieffer responded that he was a reporter, he was asked to leave and not return.
The rest of the discussion touched on politics, technology and the role of journalism today, as Schieffer discussed his experiences reporting on politics.
“Politicians and reporters have two entirely different missions,” he said at the media briefing. “It is the mission of the politician to deliver a message. It is the mission of the reporter to find the truth.”
Most of the talk focused on the changes in reporting politics from when he first went to Washington, D.C., in 1969 to now.
“Information management has now become so sophisticated,” he said. “When I came to Washington, and people sometimes find this hard to believe, most members of Congress didn’t even have press secretaries.”
Now, Schieffer said, even the lowest sub-committees have press secretaries and media managers.
“It just makes it harder and harder to get through and get the story,” he said.
Journalism freshman Tyler Klaus said the discussion made him want to be a journalist even more.
“Seeing him talk (and) seeing how down to earth he is really influenced me to be even more of a journalist then when I came into it,” he said.
Schieffer also spoke about Walter Cronkite, with whom he personally worked at CBS.
“Walter was who I wanted to be when I was a young reporter, and he’s who I still want to be,” he said. “He was a great figure, not just in journalism, but in America.”
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