In the beginning, radio was his second choice. After a journalistic teething in the service of the ANETA news agency in the Netherlands, Daniel Schorr wanted to be a foreign correspondent for The New York Times. When he fell victim to the Jewish-owned paper’s self-imposed quota on Jewish reporters, Schorr went to work for Edward R. Murrow at CBS in 1953.
The signal that he had made the grade came on New Year’s Day 1956, as “Murrow’s Boys” made the transfer to television. Schorr had left his post in Russia to join Howard K. Smith, Richard C. Hottelet, Eric Sevareid, and Murrow’s other far-flung correspondents at a televised roundtable discussion titled, “Years of Crisis.”
When the hour-long, commercial-free program had concluded, Murrow strode around the table, stopping before its newest addition.
“Schorr,” Murrow said, “you’ll do!”
A latecomer to the Murrow team, which had distinguished itself during World War II, Schorr outlived it and built a career that spanned other generations of broadcast journalists and continues to this day, at National Public Radio (NPR). He tells the story of that career in Staying Tuned: A Life in Journalism.
The book follows the octogenarian Schorr through his divorce with CBS—over his 1975 release to another news organization of a House report on U.S. intelligence activities—and his brief stay at the fledgling Cable News Network, to his post at NPR. In it, Schorr recalls decades-old anecdotes with convincing clarity and comments on a trade and an industry that in many respects have lost their way.
“Television has also created a new breed of journalist, more knowledgeable of the medium than of the world,” Schorr writes. “This journalist may be more adept at the ad-lib than searching analysis, more expert in camera angles than English grammar.”
And how would Murrow function within broadcast journalism today? Schorr thinks he knows: The pioneer of television news would be back on radio, also at NPR.
—Jim Fisher ’69, Editorial Page Editor, Lewiston Morning Tribune