Michael Pearson

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Posts by Michael Pearson

Actor Jon Voight speaks to reporters at RNC

Academy Award-winning actor Jon Voight, speaking to reporters at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, said it was important for American voters to get past the distractions reported by the media and focus on things the government can solve like “getting people back to work.”

He said President Obama has done nothing to get Americans back into jobs. When YNN’s Capital Tonight crew asked Voight if his brother, Chip Taylor, agreed with him, Voight replied, “We don’t talk a lot about politics in the family.”

Chip Taylor is a singer-songwriter who divides his time between Austin and New York. His first songwriting hit was “Wild Thing” by the Troggs in the 1960s.

Shallow times call for return of deeper journalism

Excuse my nervousness. But this is the first blog entry I’ve ever written in my 32-year career in journalism – the first 16 years toiling as a reporter and editor at newspapers and the rest in local television news in San Antonio and Austin. In fact, I have been so uncomfortable getting into this form, that when some of my colleagues asked what I thought of our recently launched political blog, Capital Roundup, I bellowed, “I don’t read blogs.” Just imagine the ration of abuse so deservedly thrown at me.

I learned my lesson. I changed my mind. In fact, I kind of like this blogging thing. (My God, man! How long have blogs been around now?!)

OK, I’m slow, too.

And blown away. Blown away by Bill Moyers’ lecture the other evening at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library. As I walked slowly out of the auditorium, I felt compelled to try to share with as many people as possible in my own circle the renowned journalist’s remarks in the inaugural of a new LBJ Foundation distinguished lecture series named in honor of his longtime friend, Tom Johnson.

Young journalists who were not in that audience, however, are my intended audience. Why? My guess is the newsroom I work in is not unlike a lot of newsrooms. They are busy places filled with reporters, editors and producers so busy feeding the daily beasts of non-stop newscasts, never-ending press runs of news columns and an internet and social media that never sleeps. A barrage of reporting that – these days – seem intent on just telling both sides now. Point A versus Point B. Point B versus Point A. Tit-for-tat with plenty of sound bytes and quotes, but very little context – and certainly no conclusions.

Yes, Moyers spoke of the common run of impoverished and middle-class Americans trying to do better than their fathers, the heroism of the everyday man, and the most challenging of religious doctrines that calls for all of us to do unto others as they would do unto you. He, too, warned that America was in the midst of a renewed gilded age where the privileged powerful feed on the less fortunate. Moyers worried that we’ve become a country of winners and losers with little sympathy for losers. In a word, America is becoming shallow.

You may not agree with Moyers’ view of the world. And, that’s OK.

But I worry that our journalism is becoming increasingly shallow in a time of almost instant polling and 24-hour news cycles. I, too, think one could argue that an underlying point Moyers so eloquently made, without outright saying it, is our shallowness might well be a symptom of our shallow journalism. We need more context and community in our journalism that might help us and our viewers and readers come to conclusions in our political discourse; that we get away from the relentless struggle to win ratings and subscriptions that has so robbed us of any well-rounded view of our world. A world that might return to a sense of optimism. Yes, as Moyers said, I think so.

In the video above you’ll find Moyer’s speech. Take an hour of your time to view it. I think you’ll find it was worth your attention in these busy and shallow times.

You can see pictures and more information from the event by clicking here.