Loss of an American Icon

I am a creature of habit. For the past several years I would mark the end of my work day (I work from home) by making my way out of the office and down to the living room at exactly 6:30 PM EST where our satellite was set to auto-tune to the ABC’s World News Tonight. I chose to watch ABC’s news cast because of the impact Peter Jennings had not only on the delivery of the news but on the tone of the entire program. So when Jennings made this subdued announcement in April regarding the revelation that he had lung cancer,

“I will continue to do the broadcast,” he said, his voice husky, in a taped message that night. “On good days, my voice will not always be like this.”

I really tried to keep watching World News Tonight. But after a short while it became apparent that the absence of Jennings had changed the program and I stopped watching.

Not a week went by that I didn’t tune back in to see if Jennings had returned. I guess I was optimistic that he was off somewhere using every bit of that strength of character he showed us for decades on our televisions to overcome the cancer. If anyone had it in them to do so I was sure it was Peter Jennings. So you will understand the sorrow I feel this morning having learned that Peter Jennings died last night at the age of 67. His passing marks the end of an era of network news dominated by the stoic reporter turned anchor. The news business will surely go on – ABC has already begun changing its format – but in my humble opinion it will never be the same.

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