Sunday, September 25, 2005

Putting the ‘Journal’ Back Into Journalism

Jack Perkins’ biography is so good, it looks made up: correspondent, commentator and anchorman at NBC News; covered the (Winter) Olympics, Vietnam and exclusively interviewed Sirhan Sirhan. And speaking of “Biography,” he used to host it. (Did I mention his seven Emmys?) All that, and he gets the moniker of "America's most literate correspondent" from the Associated Press. Those are just highlights, of course.

If Perkins did nothing else in his career, he’s made his mark. He could simply wander off and indulge himself in photography and poetry – but he hasn’t, and we are the beneficiaries.

Perkins hosts “A Gulf Coast Journal” on WEDU. His monthly shows show that quality, in-the-field programming can be produced at the local PBS level, something that EDU has not shown a proclivity to do in the past. But “Journal” isn’t just good “Public Television.” It is good journalism – and may be the finest example of consistent story-telling by a broadcast or cable entity in the Bay area. Perkins certainly deserves the Lion’s share of credit for that, but the pride in his collegial pride no doubt goes deeper – and wide.

Yet, consider this: Many of his “Journal” entries have been waiting (perhaps even yearning) to be told well, long before falling within his journalistic crosshairs. Take, for example, his Sarasota Scullers segment, a tale of teens and teamwork. From a technical standpoint, there seemed not a single aspect of that story that could not potentially have been handled by an able cameraperson at any Bay area ABC, CBS, NBC or Fox affiliate. (Let’s toss SNN6 and Bay News 9 into that mix as well.)

The editing for the Sarasota Scullers was first-rate, but TBM suspects that skill-set is available in abundance around town. The writing? Well, writing is a significant factor, but let’s say it’s at least possible.

Perkins’ voice? Gold, it’s true. But every major Bay area outlet has at least one golden throat. (Bob Hite and John Wilson spring to mind.)

No, TBM thinks the difference is a combination of patience and attitude.

TBM submits for your approval this thoughtful, qualitative judgment: that broadcast journalists can get into such a deadline groove that they (or perhaps their higher-ups) forget that occasionally everybody needs to take a deep breath and give “the story” a little extra thought, care and time.

All other things being equal, there’s no reason why Bay area viewers ought not to get more programming on the level of “A Gulf Coast Journal.”

TBM understands the pressure of deadlines and competition, but there are many stories that deserve to be simmered and sautéed before being served rather than microwaved and slapped on a dish – or cable.

Let’s all jot that down in our journals . . . courtesy of Smilin’ Jack.


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Sunday, September 25, 2005 2:40:00 PM  
Blogger Andrea said...

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Sunday, September 25, 2005 11:07:00 PM  
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Thursday, September 29, 2005 9:44:00 PM  
Blogger Robert C. said...

Thanks for the heads up!

I've always enjoyed Jack Perkins' work, and that golden voice "Jack Perkins, NBC News..." since I was but a kid...and didn't know he was still around, especially in my own backyard! Will definately look this programme up!

Saturday, October 01, 2005 12:34:00 PM  

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