Peter Jennings, anchor and senior editor of ABCNEWS' World News Tonight, was presented with the Edward R. Murrow Award for Lifetime Achievement in Broadcasting April 14 at Washington State University’s 30th Murrow Symposium.
In presenting the award, WSU President V. Lane Rawlins called Jennings “a legendary television foreign correspondent, reporter and news anchor.”
Following the award presentation Jennings used current events as a springboard for comments to the standing room-only crowd. He said it is his dream for network newscasts to be a full hour and that he believes the news should be broadcast in primetime when the American people might be expected to watch.
At a news conference earlier in the day, Jennings was asked to comment on the evolution of the news media over his career and the proliferation of news and information including Internet content. “It makes it easier in one respect for the public because there are so many more choices,” Jennings said. “I think it makes it harder for the public in some respects because we all get so much data every day that between data and information and understanding, getting context is pretty hard. Searching for truth and context is in some respects harder for us today.”
Jennings walked a delicate line at both the news conference and symposium when he was asked his opinion of corporate communication mergers. “It doesn’t behoove me to bite the hand that feeds me too hard,” Jennings said, “but it deserves to be bitten in some way. I think any of us who are journalists or editors have a pretty strong sense that more media in fewer hands has potential dangers.”
Reed Michaelson and Hafsah Al-hassan, both 15 years old and freshmen at Pullman High School, attended the news conference as a school communication project for Pullman School District Television and asked Jennings how teenagers in Iraq are dealing with the current conflict.
“I spent one fascinating day at Baghdad University talking to kids roughly your age,” Jennings said. “There was this tremendous energy on the campus and tremendous ambiguity about America…. get out of our country, we can run things ourselves, but don’t go too soon because if you do all hell will break loose.”
Jennings joined ABCNEWS in 1964 and spent nearly twenty years as chief foreign correspondent and as the foreign desk anchor for World News Tonight before being named the network’s anchor and senior editor in 1983. His most recent reports include updates from Iraq and TV specials on the drug Ecstasy and the history of Christianity.