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Peter Jennings Quotes

Peter Charles Archibald Ewart

Peter Jennings quotes: lessons from the late TV journalist.

“Good evening.  We begin tonight…”

“I have never spent a day in my adult life where I didn’t learn something, and if there is a born-again quality to me, that’s it.”

“Have a sense of humor about life.  You will need it.  And be courteous.”

“There will be good days and bad.”

“The most important thing you can be in your career is fair.  So we all start to see a box and hope that we see the box in the same way.  But you recognize in time that people see the box or they see it in entirely different ways.  So you train yourself over the years to try and give accounting to the variety… and come to some decent place in the middle.  But I’m not a slave to objectivity.  I’m never quite sure what it means.  And it means different things to different people.”

“I’ve always believed that if someone is determined to complain about you, that you should not only listen to them outright but encourage them.”

“There’s no such thing as an independent person.”

“I’ve always shied away from conventional wisdom, though I know the power of it.”

“I think that I’m always, at least I hope I’m always, open to learning.  It’s not my job here to be making judgments about people’s lifestyles, whether I approve of them or not.”

“The worse things got around me the cooler I tend to be.  I tend to focus very hard under pressure.”

“I’m a middle-aged man in love with the internet.  I am by no means a technical expert.  Nor do I profess to understand how it works, I just think the internet is a tremendously valuable tool for all of us.  And for someone whose career happens to be journalism, it is a necessity.  A wonderful necessity.”

“I think I am very mainstream.  I’m committed to good works in my life.”

“Do I think I was put here on earth to be a journalist and to seek truth?  No, I don’t.”

“I came to America in 1964 as a reporter determined to go and see the rest of the world.  I got offered a job by ABC.  I was so intimidated by the notion of coming to New York the first time that I said no.  And I woke up about six months later in a cold sweat and said, ‘Oh, God, what have I done?’  And I wrote them and said, ‘Could I change my mind?'”

“I’m a high school dropout and literally a self-made man in the complex world of broadcast journalism.  I didn’t have to go to college to succeed.”

“I admit that anchormen are paid ‘too much’ because high ratings have an effect on sales and ‘it’s a tenuous career.’  But I’m not going to lead the fight against being well paid.”

“I’m a reporter.  I’m not a scholar.”

“It taught me very young that as a broadcast journalist, the most exciting thing in the world for a broadcast journalist is to go on the air and do a live event.  You’re totally in command.  There’s nobody who can tell you to shut up.  They can cut your microphone.  It’s basically your decision about where you go and what you cover, but if you don’t have a sense of context and if you have no history, forget it.”

“I just acknowledge that TV is the modern equivalent of gathering around the campfire.”

“I’ve come to relish every single opportunity to learn anything.  Every single opportunity to learn, ever since grade nine, once I was past 20, has just been a magic moment.”

“As a journalist, one tends to think there’s nothing off limits.”

“I write down thoughts as they occur to me.  You never know when you’re going to need a good idea.”

“I was raised with the notion that it was okay to ask questions, and it was okay to say, ‘I’m not sure.'”

“Don’t be confused that my interest in religion, faith and spirituality is driven by any sense of faith or spirituality of my own.  I am sensitive to the value of faith and religion and spirituality in people’s lives because I’m a journalist.”

“I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn’t, than live my life as if there isn’t and die to find out there is.”

“I don’t think a reporter should give advice or make predictions.”

“It was Thomas Jefferson more than anybody, who said best what we must all in America be reminded of to pay decent respect to the opinions of mankind because thus America also pays respect to what it is in its better self.  I think that those of us who come from afar and partake of this leave here with that idea very much in mind that we leave here having had an opportunity to pay decent respect, if we so choose, to the opinions of other people of the rest of the world.  And if we take those ideas and opinions when we go home, we will all ourselves be better off.”

“I hope it goes without saying that a journalist who doesn’t value deeply the audience’s loyalty should be in another line of work.”

“Summing up my aspirations in 1967, after my first try at being an anchor in America failed, I want to reach the point where Walter Cronkite or his counterpart at that future date will say, ‘Peter Jennings is a good news correspondent.  He is a good communicator.  He is a good broadcaster.  He is a good human being.'”

“Patriotism is like loving your family whether it is good or bad, while always striving to make it better.  Nationalism simply insists, ‘Hey, my family is the best.'”

“Reach out, call your family members, if you have children, call them right now.”

“The one thing that I have done really well in my life is be a father.”

“Hundreds of you have been like family.  It feels good to have such a family right now.”

“I was very lucky.”

“Seems like yesterday; seems like forever—all at the same time.”

“At any rate, that’s it for now on World News Tonight.  Have a good evening; I’m Peter Jennings.  Thanks, and good night.”

Related: Tom Brokaw quotes.

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