Why We Should Honor Daniel Schorr

Posted by jcmaziquemd on September 4, 2010

Veteran newsman Daniel Schorr, a pioneer of broadcast journalism who was part of Edward R. Murrow’s legendary CBS team, died peacefully Friday after a short illness at age 93, his family informed NPR, the public radio network announced on Friday.

Journalists of color remembered Schorr in the context of his times and for the friendship he offered.

Schorr "was part of the generation of white reporters that gave credence to the movement by covering it fairly, meaning, shining light on the horrors of jim crow, voting denial & lynching, forcing white americans to finally confront those realities," Paul Delaney, a retired senior editor at the New York Times who was among the first generation of black reporters at the outset of the civil rights movement, said by e-mail. "Dan, along with Gene Roberts, Claude Sitton,John Herbers, Karl Fleming, Reese Cleghorn, Sandy Vanocur, Johnny Popham, Herb Kaplow, Fred Powledge & Jack Nelson, put rights issues on front pages of major papers & on the evening news, w/o much of the racist slant of most southern media," Delaney continued.

"I have soooo many stories of working with Dan Schorr but the main thing I got from him was that no matter who is on the other side of the table or microphone, they are to be treated with dignity," Doug Mitchell, chair of the Media Institute of the National Association of Black Journalists, wrote to the NABJ e-mail list. Sometime between 1989 and 1992, when he was Schorr’s producer at NPR, Mitchell went with Schorr to meet former president Richard M. Nixon, whose administration had placed him on its "enemies list."

Schorr’s manners were on display. "My parents taught me that. Dan’s actions simply reinforced it," Mitchell said. "It was an honor to be his producer for the short time I was in that role."

Another former NPR colleague, Eugene Holley, told Journal-isms in a Facebook message, "I never told this to anyone. When I was an Intern at NPR on M St. my boss, Thurston Briscoe, gave me my first assignment: A Morning Edition arts feature on jazz pianist Kirk Lightsey, scheduled for airing on Jan. 1, 1987. I was in the editing booth the day before the air date — crashing, depressed, and angry because it wasn’t coming together. I was near tears, and I was getting ready to quit, when Mr. Schorr appeared out of nowhere, and without saying a word, he put his hand on my shoulder, gave me a warm smile and gave me the confidence to go on… Thank you Mr. Schorr!


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