Monday, August 8, 2005

Peter Jennings passes away

Peter Jennings passed away today from lung cancer, just four months after he announced he had been diagnosed with the disease. There is no word on who his replacement will be.

Peter Jennings has a special place in my heart. Many of my "cross-cultural" courses at the Jesuit university utilized materials from his broadcasts to convey what North Americans were thinking, feeling, and saying. More importantly, it was his cool objectiveness that inspired me to push for news programming at our mom-and-pop network. I very consciously modeled the language of our news broadcasts and my own analysis after the way he said things, and I instructed those who worked under me to do the same.

Without ever having met the man, he was an invaluable mentor.

I should also add that it was thanks to Mr. Jennings, a Canadian who became an American only two short years ago, that I learned about Canada's Northwest Territories being split into two, with the new Native-run territory being called Nunavut. I used that piece of information to win bets against Canadians with a chip on their shoulder about Americans who didn't know anything about Canadian geography, among whom they assumed I was one.

So, where you from in Canada?

Doesn't matter, 'cuz you've never heard of it.

Maybe I have. Try me. I know all the provinces and I can name all three territories.

You're wrong right there, you tool, 'cuz there are only two territories.

How much do you wanna bet there are three?

Peter Jennings, I think, demonstrated the wisdom of having a non-American anchoring a premier American news program. He was objective and dispassionate when he needed to be, though you could feel his passion when it was important. I really respected that man, and as far as my news career was concerned, I aspire(d) to be just like him.

He will be sorely missed.


  1. For people who didn't even get American news, he was the face and name everyone knew. I liked his style.

  2. He had a certain air of suaveness and sophistication that Brokaw and Rather never really had for me.

    He also had that classic, old-school Canadian English broadcasting/acting accent that I love hearing so much, even though one hardly ever hears it any more, even here in Canada. (Kind of like the old mid-Atlantic accent that American film, radio, & TV personalities used to have.) There are few working personalities out there who still have it...Christopher Plummer is probably the most notable example. Lorne Greene and the CTV national newscaster Lloyd Robertson are another two.

  3. I have tried to follow the way he spoke when I do on-air stuff, particularly news. That might be why so many people think I must have lived in Canada.

    But I'm from California (and I start to sound like it when I go there), home of the other Ontario.


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