Monday, December 7, 2009

My Love for World History - It All Started With Peter Jennings

If it's not obvious, let me just state it right now. I absolutely love history...not in a memorizing facts and details type of way but in a wow - so much of our past is an insight into where we are today and where we are headed to in the future.

I love understanding where we've been, how we got here, the psychology and sociology of how everything came to be. And this love and adoration of world history - well - I can trace it back to my evenings, watching Peter Jennings.

When I was eleven years old, Peter Jennings, along with Frank Reynolds and Max Robinson, anchored ABC World News Tonight. I wasn't much of a television news girl - I preferred reading the News Sentinel - however, the format with the three anchors appealed to me.

I was particularly drawn to the anchor who was located in a foreign country - Peter Jennings. First, his accent was intriguing. Remember, I didn't get out much so I had no idea that he was from Canada! Second, the manner and tone in which he spoke to the viewer really captured my attention. Peter had this sense of wonderment, sense of purpose that appealed to me. I never thought he was 'attractive' (I wouldn't call him ugly though). He was just someone who really opened my mind to what was going on outside of the U.S.

After a particular news segment on Beirut or Isreal or some other place or people or culture that I didn't know anything about, I would jot down enough information so that the next time I was at the library, I would pull out one of those giant encyclopedia volumes and read up on what I didn't know.

After Frank Reynolds died in 1983, Peter Jennings took over the sole anchor responsibilities full-time and every single evening, I looked forward to the opening ding ding ding ding of the ABC World News Tonight jingle. It was a signal that Peter was about to teach me something new about what was going on in the world I lived in.

I was a faithful Peter Jennings viewer - always tuning into him (and skipping over CNN) for any of the important, breaking coverage. Yes, even after I could get all of my news over the internet.

When he passed away in 2005, I felt like I had lost the older brother or uncle that I never had. When he died, I knew that broadcast television news would never be the same and you know, it hasn't. I don't watch television news anymore because there's zero credibility in the reporting (not to mention the fact that everything seems to be 20 second soundbites).

Sadly, I think my generation was the last to grow up with credible television news anchors/reporters.


ida said...

wow you really loved history. i personaly was interested in it in school. then after that it kinda stopped. i had to live in different countries before i really wanted to know more about it. plus, i had personal events hit me and i wondered how my mom (who was born in the early 20's) would have handled it or how she would have been amazed at the world and the internet today. even though she has been gone since 97 and my dad in 99 i use world history to define how they came to be who they were. i know its sappy.

but, my mom with the 6th grade education always said we cannot know who we are unless we know our past.

cw martin said...

Gee, its nice to hear aboput someone who sounds like me. My newsmen "heroes" came from a bit farther back- Edwin Newman, Floyd Kalber, and of course Uncle Walter. Oh, and Linda Ellerby. My earliest memory is watching Cronkite announce JFK's death from my potty chair, and I probably could have drawn you a good map of vietnam while my classmates were still debating whether our bus # was "one-twelve" or "one-one-two".