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Rome Hartman: Television News in the Digital Age

Rome Hartman is executive producer of the new NBC primetime magazine hour, Rock Center With Brian Williams. Hartman is responsible for the development and launch of the Williams hour, a new live, weekly broadcast which NBC says “will be built around the week’s biggest and most interesting events, meaningful and in-depth stories, and timely newsmaker interviews.” He accepted the position in June 2011, and the program launched November 1, 2011.

Prior to this, he was executive producer of the BBC’s first ever newscast tailored for American viewers. In addition to producing the nightly newscast, Hartman advised on strategy and coordinated production of other U.S.-based and U.S.-facing news content for BBC AMERICA, BBC World News, and the U.S. Edition of BBC.com/news.

Hartman joined the BBC in 2007 after a 24-year career with CBS News, where from November 2005 through March 2007, he was executive producer of the CBS Evening News and oversaw the launch of the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.

Prior to that role, Hartman was the producer of more than 100 reports for the flagship CBS magazine program 60 Minutes. Hartman also served as the senior producer responsible for 60 Minutes II from January to early September 2005. Before his 60 Minutes tenure, Hartman was the senior producer for the CBS Evening News in Washington, D.C. (1989-91) and CBS News’ White House producer (1986-89). He first joined CBS News in 1983 as a field producer in the Atlanta bureau.

In addition to three prestigious Peabodys and a duPont Award for BBC World New America, Hartman has been honored with five Emmy Awards, an Overseas Press Club Award, a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, and a Gerald Loeb Award from the UCLA Anderson School of Business. He graduated from Duke University in 1977 with a degree in political science.

This Conversation took place in Rome Hartman’s office at BBC America in Washington D.C. on June 13, 2011, as he ended his tenure there. Participants in the Conversation were John Terrill, director of the Center for Integrity in Business at Seattle Pacific University, Rome Hartman, and Al Erisman.

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Too much of local television news in America seems superficial. It seems to miss the real issues of the community and focuses on crime, entertainment, and teasers for what is to come. Is this fair, and what is the alternative?

I’m not sure that that’s a completely fair generalization, and there are alternatives. When I came to BBC, I saw an elegant and a real opportunity, since most American broadcast and cable television news outlets are primarily focused on domestic issues. That’s as it should be in some ways. The problem is that there really wasn’t an outlet that offered people who did have a sustained interest in international affairs a regular diet of that kind of news. BBC provided an opportunity to fill that gap. BBC has a global news gathering apparatus, and we were able to look out toward the horizon in a consistent, smart way.

Bias in Reporting

Another criticism of television news is its bias. Fox News has demonstrated a decided right leaning, and others are accused of left leaning. What is your viewpoint on neutrality in the news?

One of the things that has been inspiring about working at BBC is that it is an organization that is dedicated to being impartial. Nobody gets it right all the time, but it is a clearly defined bedrock principle of BBC news to try, on every story no matter what part of the world they are in, to be impartial. The organization doesn’t bring a point of view to the story and it makes an effort to represent various responsible points of view in this reporting.

One of the interesting things about working at the BBC is that public figures in Britain regularly submit to questioning from reporters that is much more direct and intense, some would say even hostile, than public officials in the United States do. I think it’s a really good thing. This is not about partisanship. Part of the responsibility of the press to is hold public officials to account on behalf of the public. This is not so that we can get our jollies by being mean to people. These people either aspired to, or hold, positions of public trust. They’re responsible for policies and positions that have a huge impact on the public. We ought to be the proxies for citizens to say, “No, wait a minute,” whatever the issue is.

Now, not everybody perceives that we get it right. Sometimes there are concerns expressed that a particular story or particular program might not be living up to those standards of impartiality. One thing that’s impressed me about BBC is how seriously it takes those questions. It tries to get to the bottom of serious questions. If some of the concerns or complaints are justified, they address them fairly. On the broader landscape in the United States, clearly there are some organizations that have explicitly taken a particular point of view. My only issue there is it’s important for people to call a spade a spade. Opinion journalism is as old as journalism. It becomes a problem when people are expressing points of view or opinion but not owning up. If it’s a point of view, then the organization (television, radio, online) should try very hard to make it clear they are offering opinion. Transparency is the answer. When opinion is couched as something other than that, or a point of view is not defined as such, then the news provider has strayed from good journalism.
Opinion journalism is as old as journalism. It becomes a problem when people are expressing points of view or opinion but not owning up.

Choices: Impact on Viewers and Producers

Today instead of four major networks, or 30 major channels, there might be 600 channels. People have so many choices. How does that affect the way you think about your work at BBC?

News consumption patterns are changing rapidly, and the opportunity for people to choose has made all providers vulnerable. There is a strong imperative we must recognize. We have to do as much as we can to make what we produce available in a number of ways on a number of platforms and in a form and format that isn’t so rigid. We must make sure that what we generate can be consumed not just in linear form on TV, but also from the computer and mobile devices at the time and place a person wants to access it. You just can’t stick to the old ways of delivering things.

Do you worry that people, because they have all these choices, will migrate only to sources that confirm their own biases? Doesn’t this undermine a broadly informed society?

Yes, that a very significant problem. When we grew up, there were editors who decided what we would see and what we would hear. Those editors still exist, but the paradigm is completely flipped over. Now consumers really have to function as their own editors. We can, and in many cases do, create our own information landscape. We decide what the sources of information are going to be, what stories we’re going to look at, and what outlets we’re going to consume.

There’s a danger that we set up a bubble for ourselves, our own personal information universe, in such a way that all it does is reinforce our point of view or our bias. It tells us how smart we are. It’s just self fulfilling. We never hear perspectives or points of view that challenge ours. BBC works very hard to make sure that we present different responsible sides on controversial subjects. But we don’t control how people are going to consume or whether they’re going to find us. I talk about this with students on a regular basis. They have to be sure to put themselves in front of material that challenges the way they think.

There’s a danger that we set up a bubble for ourselves … [and] all it does is reinforce our point of view or our bias.

What impact do you believe this will have for our society 20 years from now?

This is a good news, bad news thing. The bad news is that people must affirmatively and decisively take their own steps to make sure that they’re exposed to different points of view … and they don’t always do that. The good news is there are hundreds and thousands of outlets that offer really good, really smart, really interesting, and different perspectives on stories, subjects, issues, regions of the world. Just sitting at my computer, I have access to more information and more different perspectives on issues and events than my father or my grandfather ever had. It’s about shifting responsibility from the editor to the individual.

As you have visited students and universities around the country, have you seen the need for this emphasis?

Teachers and parents are very much alert to both the possibilities and the risks of the world that we live in now technologically. But it’s human nature to seek what you’re comfortable with. Now, you have to push yourself to get outside your comfort zone. That’s the world we live in. I hope we will adapt in this way, but I’m not certain how this transition will go. Now, you have to push yourself to get outside your comfort zone.

The Business Model for News

I have talked with several professors in journalism schools, and they are concerned about job availability for their students. We are in a declining world of newspapers, with an increasing role for bloggers. This same problem repeats, since bloggers have a point of view, but maybe it’s not always a well informed point of view. How do you see this playing out?

Clearly, the business model for newspapers is under great pressure. Print organizations are trying very hard to figure out how to reinvent a model that will allow them to sustain and support responsible journalism. If you want to be a newspaper reporter, it’s much more challenging environment than it was 20 years ago.

On the other hand, there are so many new news outlets. Because self publishing is possible in a variety of different forms, young people who are interested in journalism have a whole lot more choices in front of them. Unfortunately, not all of them are going to let you support a family. In some ways the biggest risk is that there are fewer jobs for people who have good training and good mentoring. And there are few role models to follow who have figured out this new world. Anybody can turn themselves into a foreign correspondent, but it takes schooling and mentoring and good judgement to do this well. There are lots of opportunities that are opening up even as more traditional opportunities close, but we are in the middle of a major shift and the navigation through it is not clear.
We are in the middle of a major shift and the navigation through it is not clear.

Isn’t something similar happening to television? Where once there was only broadcast, now we have YouTube, which plays the role of the blogger in this world?

Yes. There’s no doubt that the distinction between the television screen and the computer screen is disappearing. I talk with people who have two screens open, a laptop or their iPad while they are watching television, often dealing with the same thing on both screens. I don’t think television is going away, it’s just changing in a very significant way. The screens of the future may be something that we haven’t yet imagined. Those who make TVs are obviously trying to figure out what that future’s going to look like.

It was an epiphany for me a couple of years ago when I bought a new television. The TV found the wireless router in my house before it found the cable box. It was saying “Hey, hey, hey, want to go to the Internet?” before it searched for the Comcast cable box.

Any organization that wants to thrive in the future has to figure that out. There will be lots of bold experiments trying to decipher where to go here. But the truth is, whatever way news is delivered, through whatever screens its viewed on, the net result still requires good, smart content. There’s always going to be market for that. Figuring out how to get that material in front of as many people as you can or enough people to make it economically viable so that you could support quality work … that’s the crucial thing.

Whatever way news is delivered, … the net result still requires good, smart content.

Ethics in Journalism

Let’s talk about ethics and journalism in the Internet age. There have been some recent scandals, such as The New York Times who fabricated and plagerized stories. On the one hand, there is more material to draw on. On the other hand, search capability has made it possible to track down information. Do you see this type of ethical violation becoming more prevalent or less prevalent?

I’m probably not qualified to say there’s more of it than it used to be or less than it used to be. There have always been frauds and cheats in journalism. Since the dawn of time, people have either said the truth, made stuff up, or borrowed material that wasn’t theirs. I’m sure that there were caveman plagiarizing when they were cutting and chipping things into the walls, stealing the drawing from another caveman. That’s as powerful as human beings. Perhaps a controlling factor in the present world is that reputation matters more than ever. News organizations like BBC go to great lengths to make sure that their work is credible, accurate, and accountable. This provides an advantage for such organizations compared with “Joe Shmo” on some unknown news website.

Just today when we talked about this in our worldwide call to set up the day for BBC news. A blog purporting to be the views of a gay woman in Damascus turned out to be an American man and an editor. Anybody can do that sort of thing. What I think it means is that consumers will go more and more to the organization they trust. We just have to make sure that we’re worthy of their trust.

Almost every big news organizations has had at least one or two episodes. The Times had it as you mentioned. But so has The Post, CBS, NBC, and BBC. Everybody has had episodes where somebody has done something wrong, whether intentionally or unintentionally. It’s how organizations respond to those things that matters. It is the safeguards that they put into place that determine the integrity of the organization.

Reporting on Technology

You mentioned in one of your other interviews that the news has not done a good job of reporting on technology and religion. Let’s start with technology. What are the challenges there?

Mainstream news organizations have been slow to find the leading edge when it comes to technology. Now there are endless numbers of organizations, mostly now online, that do nothing but tech reporting. I think traditional broad base news organizations have caught up to some degree. We’re trying to be more sophisticated, but it’s just a difficult beat to cover because it moves so fast. The main challenge of covering technology is the pace of change. It’s hard to know whether something is going to become the next mega trend, the next Facebook, and have a profound effect on society, or if it will be road kill in six months time. There is a great deal of hype here, and it is important to sort this out correctly.

I’ve observed that sometimes the difference has nothing to do with the technology itself, but with the timing, the climate, and the supportive infrastructure that can make or break a new technology. There are numerous new and old examples of these booms and busts.

Reporting on Religion

What about religion?

It’s a different issue with religion. Partly it’s a sensitive subject. It’s a very personal thing for most who are news consumers, and I think some organizations over the years have responded to that sensitivity by avoiding the subject because we don’t want to offend. I think partly it’s that. But when you think about the last 10 or 15 years, religious conflict, or conflict that has a religious dimension, has been a huge part of global news. There’s been a sharp learning curve. Westerners have had trouble here, and some individuals have done better than others.

Conflict that has a religious dimension, has been a huge part of global news.

Yet I believe it is important to understand the dimensions of faiths, the way faiths impact people’s actions or attitudes. That’s a hard thing to learn and requires some sophisticated understanding. When you think about the way in which people reacted to 9/11, that was the beginning for most Americans of trying to figure out this question. There is definitely a stronger religious component to key events in our world and we can’t duck away from them because they are sensitive or difficult.

Most world religions are dramatically misunderstood by those who are not adherents. There are very few places where people can sit together where it feels safe to talk these things through. There has been an attempt here in Washington, following 9/11, to create a safe place for Christians and Muslims to come together and talk through some of their differences. People retreat to stereotypes pretty quickly and pretty easily if left to their own devices. This is not so much about journalism, but obviously, journalists need to be in there trying to come to a deeper understanding of where faiths affect and shape actions.

Are journalists well educated to do this? Is this a part of their training?

That is hard to generalize. There are people of all kinds of faith in most newsrooms, but for a long time it was seen as something that was separate. That’s not part of what my professional or work identity is. To some degree that’s very well grounded, that’s part of the journalist instinct toward impartiality. I have to leave my personal feelings or beliefs at home so they don’t get in the way of my responsible reporting. But some people now see the need to recognize that we all our informed by what we believe. We’ve have to be very careful about the way we do this well.

How does this work for you every day?

Like most people on a journey, I have come to feel like my Christian faith is more essential to who I am as time’s gone along. My professional career and my faith journey have run a long side one another they intercept more and more. My faith informs who I am, how I treat people, and how I make decisions. It is the foundation for the integrity with which I try to operate. And when I fail, which I do, it affects the way I respond to failure. As I try to be a better man, that process is informed by my Christian faith and hopefully it manifests itself in my work. That may sound simplistic, but it is the way I see it. My job is not to evangelize. It is not my job to try to convert people. In fact it’s an important part of my job not to do that, not to put people in a position where they feel that I am exerting pressure or making them feel that they ought to think a certain way. That’s actually a really important principle.

I work for organizations. This is not like I founded my own company.. I’m not the owner. As an employee of an organization, I need to be expressly and properly open to people of every faith.

Favorite Interview

Tell me about your favorite interview.

I will be honest with you, I have a hard time picking one because there are so many fascinating ones. But let me tell you about two.

The first is not a single interview but a story I produced for 60 Minutes back in about 1994. In the course of filming it we probably interviewed 40 people. It’s a program called “Strive” about a work-readiness training program based in the Spanish Harbour in New York. This program was directed at those who most people consider unemployable: former addicts, welfare recipients, people with substance abuse problems, people with the background of prison. They try to help these people get ready for the world of work. They have three-week sessions for each of the participants. They guarantee that if you make it through the three weeks they’ll find you a job. They have a remarkable record of people sticking in those jobs and moving up. It’s a wrenching, difficult Monday through Friday, three straight weeks, and we were able to film one full three-week session.

We interviewed the participants, those people who got it together to come down the steps to that room at nine o’clock every morning. We also interviewed the people who formed and ran Strive, many of whom come from the same background with the same difficulties years before. This was a tremendously disciplined program. If you showed up five minutes late 14 days into the program, you were out. You could do it over later, but you had to start at the beginning. But the discipline paid off for those who made it through the program. Frank Horton was one of the trainers and Ron Carmona runs the program.

It was one of the most inspiring things that I have ever been involved in. The people who came to Strive have problems that would’ve kept me in bed. With those problems, I would have wanted to stay in bed and cover my head, but it was something to see how much people wanted things to be better. The dedication of people who devoted their lives to offering this program was equally inspiring.

For a very different example, we did a profile on George Lucas for 60 Minutes some years ago and that was just pure fun. He’s a really interesting figure and I learned a lot about his approach to movie making and his approach to the world. So that was a fun story.

Didn’t you end up with a major role in one of the Star Wars films?

It’s was an extremely minor role. That role was so minor that even my kids couldn’t find me when the movie finally came out. There was no quid pro quo there, it just happened. But nobody would know about it unless I told the story. It was just one of those chance circumstances, but it was fun.

Good Story vs. News

What is the relationship between a good story and good reporting?

For a journalist, the reporting comes first and the story follows. If you’re a reporter or a producer and you’re covering a particular story, the reporting is the finding the facts, understanding characters, and identifying themes and threads of information. The storytelling part is when you pull everything together, you put it in a pot creating a really rich and spicy stew.

Mentors and Mentoring

Can good packaging of stories be taught?

Yes, you can teach it, but there has to be an element of self teaching as well. This can happen in journalism school or English class. There are literally thousands of people who are trying to teach students how to become good writers, how to become good storytellers, but the only way it really works is by doing it over and over and over. Journalism is a craft. And like most crafts, people only really excel by doing it over and over and over and over. It’s not that different from carpentry. You’re going to be much better carpenter on the thousandth house you build. The same thing in journalism. There is no substitute for doing it over and over and trying to get better at it.

There is no substitute for doing it over and over and trying to get better at it.

But another crucial element is having somebody to show your work to. So, if you’re an apprentice carpenter and you have a master who’s critiquing and improving and giving you tips, you’re going to become a much better cabinetmaker. The same thing is true for reporting. You really need people who will help you along the way, often by finding fault or flaws in your work. That’s where joining an organization provides an advantage, even if it’s a small one. If you can identify somebody who’s really good in that organization and get on their radar, even if it’s not their official job to critique your work, that’s a really good thing to do. I’ve had people who have functioned in that role ever since I started in local television. After getting out of college, in my first job, I searched for someone and would say, “Can you take a look at this?”

The person that I learned the most about storytelling from by far was the executive producer of 60 Minutes Don Hewitt. I had the opportunity to work with him over a decade. I learned more about how to tell stories from him than anyone else I can think of. He built one of the great careers in television journalism over four words, “Tell me a story.” Having mentors is very important.

Since I am producing programs rather than pieces now, I’m not the one that’s going out and gathering the story. But I really like sitting in a screening room or having somebody carry their laptop in here to show me their work. While offering input and feedback, I try to be encouraging at the same time I am critiquing. I get more joy out of that than almost anything else.

While offering input and feedback, I try to be encouraging at the same time I am critiquing.

Embarrassing Moment

Can you share your most embarrassing professional moment?

Here is one that brought me properly down to size. When you think you are hot stuff, that’s often the moment when you are reminded that you’re not. I was the senior producer in Washington for the CBS Evening News and I thought it was pretty hot stuff. Lesley Stahl called and asked if I might consider coming to 60 Minutes as a producer. I said that it sounded interesting. So she ran up the hallway to his office, and said “Don, I think I can get Rome Hartman to come!” To which he responded, “Great, but who the hell is Rome Hartman?”

There was another time when I was the White House producer for the CBS Evening News around 1986. Pope John Paul came to the U.S. for his first meeting with Ronald Reagan. They met in Miami at a place called Vizcaya, a beautiful mansion that is now a public space, because the pope was going to do a big open-air mass there.

President Reagan and Pope John Paul were going to walk up through the gardens to where the microphones had been set up and give a joint statement. Each would speak and we, the press, were kept behind a rope, but it was only literally six feet from where the microphones were. We were going to go live at the top of the CBS Evening News. The pope and Reagan came up to the steps just two or three minutes before we were to go on the air and the pope began to speak in his very quiet voice just as we went on the air. Bill Plante, in his booming voice, was speaking to the audience of the CBS Evening News, drowning out the pontiff. I remember looking over to Nancy Reagan, who was standing next to the president. She looked at me and I swear, if she had a gun we would have been dead. Her eyes were like daggers. I don’t know what else I could have done except to have Bill speak in a quieter voice. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a quieter voice. If I could have disappeared from the earth at that moment it would have been a good thing. Unfortunately, when you are in the public eye, it too often shines on you at the wrong time. But it goes with the territory.

When you are in the public eye, it too often shines on you at the wrong time.

Work/Life Balance

News is a 24/7 thing. I know you have a family, and wonder how you deal with work-life balance?

I don’t think that journalism has a particularly greater call on that problem than a lot of other professions. I meet with a group of guys every Friday morning for breakfast: a couple of doctors, a lawyer, and a finance guy, and we’ve been talking about this issue of work-life balance for 15 years. How will we ever get it right and how will we ever pay enough attention to our families or order our lives to find a way not to have our professional lives dominate things. I don’t have an answer.

But I think you have to be aware of it and you have to be working on it. You need to understand that there are seasons, chapters of your life. If you’re full on 100 percent of the time for anything then you’re out of whack. There have been times in my professional life where this is more of a problem than others. I’m probably about to enter another one because when you’re starting something, or starting with a new organization, it’s just natural to wake up thinking and going to bed thinking about work. The key thing is to be aware that it’s an issue and to be communicating with your spouse. The only way I’ve ever been able to do anything approaching balance is because my wife Amy helps keep me alert to the issue.

Didn’t you end up living in different cities for a while?

Yes. When I was doing the CBS Evening News, our younger son was a junior in high school. We were living in Washington, D.C., and it didn’t seem right to pick him up and move him to a new school at that stage. So, I was in New York Monday through Friday and would come home on weekends. We made it work, we figured it out, but it was hard. One of the things that Amy said at the time was, “You’d better be glad that you made a lot of deposits in the marital and parental bank over the years, because you are making massive withdrawals now.” That’s the chapters and seasons thing. When you have the opportunity, as I did during my 60 Minutes days, when there was a little more flexibility in my schedule, I could coach one of my kid’s teams during that time. I could reliably be home on weekends and that sort of thing. I did it and then so there was something in the bank when the time came to make some withdrawals. There are moments when things are out of control. Today is not the norm, either for good or for bad, and you have to balance it out over time.

“You’d better be glad that you made a lot of deposits in the marital and parental bank over the years, because you are making massive withdrawals now.”

I’m interested in hearing more about the rhythm of your day. I notice while we are talking that there are screens all around you and you are scanning for a breaking story while being attentive to us. And you go home at night and the phone could ring anytime for some major event. This would seem to make your job different from most other professions.

I am not sure. I have a friend who’s one of the world’s best pediatric cardiologists, and he made a similar comment to me. But I responded “Yes, it’s important to get this right, and, yes, as soon as we get it done one day we do it again the next day. But we don’t save lives. You, on the other hand, save lives. You will get a call in the middle of the night and there’s a patient who needs a heart procedure. Tell me about pressure.” So, it is relative — you get used to it.

In my case, I’m working in an incredible place that has a lot of infrastructure. I have colleagues who are way better at this than I. For example, Kate Farrell, sitting just outside the door, is the person who is responsible for putting out a program every day, and sadly she does it without my full attention a lot of days. So, it is about having people around you. And you get accustomed to it. I’ve worked both forms of journalism: day to day and longer term. At 60 Minutes we sometimes lived with a story for months. Now, we do five, or 10 shows a week. Neither is more pressure than the other, just a different kind of pressure.

Leaving BBC

You just made an announcement that you are leaving BBC. Can you tell us about your decision?

This is something that came up just in the last month. I’ve spent four years at BBC and it’s been an amazing chapter in my life. But NBC News is starting a television newsmagazine and it’s an irresistible opportunity. It’s a chance to work for what is the leading broadcast news organization in America with the leading broadcast anchorman in America [Brian Williams] on a project that has a huge amount of appeal. As much as I have appreciated the chance to work at the BBC, and like what we do here, this is just something not to be passed up. It’s a great challenge and a great opportunity.

Key Career Points

Talk a little bit about some key turning points in your career. When did you know you wanted to be a journalist and what are key places where your career changed?

I didn’t have much idea of what I was supposed to do through my junior college education here in Washington, D.C. But from the time that I had an internship at the local CBS affiliate here in D.C. after my junior year in college, I’ve only wanted to be a television journalist. I came away from that summer of 1976 when I was 20 years old thinking, “All right, this is what I want to do.” It really was an epiphany. From that time until now, I’ve only done one thing, working as a television journalist.

Video

A career in TV journalism is a bit like a career in baseball. If you can hit the curve ball in single A, you then get to move to AA. And if you keep progressing, you hope to get to AAA and then the big leagues. My professional journey tracks like that.

I started in West Palm Beach, Florida. I apparently could hit the curve ball there, so after a couple of years I moved to Miami, which is a bigger station, bigger market. Then I moved to Washington, again a bigger station, bigger market. When I got a job offer from CBS News, that was like making the big leagues in baseball. I was elated.

About six months into my CBS career as a producer based at the Atlanta Bureau, our job was to cover the geographic south and sometimes the Caribbean and Latin America. They sent me to Granada, and I was really a pup. There had been a coup, the prime minister had been unseated, and we were sent down there to try to get into Grenada to cover this coup. Reagan had made a big deal out of Cuban and therefore communist influence in this little island nation.

Ronald Reagan invaded Grenada about five days later, and I happened to be there. There were four of us at beginning, and 24 hours later there were 40 CBS people there. I remember the foreign editor for CBS News at the time got me on phone and said, “You’re doing a great job, kid, keep it up, you’re in charge.” My head wanted to say, “No, Peter, don’t put me in charge; I don’t know what to do.” But instead I said, “OK, Peter, I’m on it.” It was one of those moments when you either sink or swim. I really wasn’t qualified, but was trying to do a good job, trying to balance various interests. I certainly was paying attention.

I was working as hard as I could work. That was a moment when I either passed the test or I flunked, and I guess I passed it. Certainly it was not because I had the skill or the experience to do that job, but I just worked it hard. The next step was the one I described earlier when Lesley asked me if I would come to 60 Minutes. I thought I was on the track to a stay on the hard news side of CBS, and eventually become executive producer of the CBS Evening News. Now, I eventually did that job but 15 years later when I was much better qualified.

Jumping to 60 Minutes was an opportunity I didn’t fully appreciate at the time. It was there that  I learned how to become a better storyteller, how to appreciate narrative as opposed to just news. It made me a much better newsman since I got a sense of telling the true and fair story, but in a way that’s engaging and is going to capture people’s attention.

So, 60 Minutes was that turning point for me. I feel like I’m on the verge of the next real milestone with the opportunity to be in partnership with a great organization and a great anchorman Brian Williams, and to launch a brand-new magazine. We want it to be something that is both engaging and smart on primetime television. I am excited about the opportunity to do this.

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