Hard to imagine that Peter Jennings is not going to be around us anymore. In the media world, anchors or ‘talking heads’ are often known for their camera personality, confidence, charm etc. Peter was more than this, to be sure. Unlike the way most anchors move in from a journalism beat to anchor position, Peter (who started life as a correspondent) once gave up the anchor chair for a foreign correspondent’s job, just to get a better grasp at journalism.
Among his many legacies, he left us communicators with the message that we should never stop learning. Colleagues have described him as a curious fellow, interested in any subject on earth. He also had a tremendous respect for his audience. On Wednesday night, on ABC’s special feature on his life, a colleague recounted how no one could ever tell him that ‘the audience would not be interested in this.’ He made sure his program (which interestingly is still branded as ‘World News Tonight With Peter Jennings’) made people interested in the topics his team covered.
On a personal note, I used to tell this story how, in the eighties, long before I had any inclination that I would move over to the U.S., I used to ride my bicycle to the American Center in Colombo, every Sunday afternoon, to catch a week’s worth of ‘ABC News With Peter Jennings.’ To me Peter was everything that America stood for, and what journalism ought to be. Only much later did I learn that he was not even a U.S. citizen –until very recently.