Dan Rather returns to UT in second lecture of the year

Brooke Sjoberg

The second-floor auditorium of the Belo Center for New Media fell silent as former CBS anchor Dan Rather took the stage to discuss his journalistic career Wednesday night.

R.B. Brenner, director of the School of Journalism, interviewed Rather and discussed the Briscoe Center for American History’s launch of Dan Rather: American Journalist, a website offering documentation of Rather’s career and a view of major moments in U.S. history through a journalistic lens.

“I think a lot of what you need to know in journalism can be learned from the outside,” Rather said. “What history gives you and the knowledge of history, gives you a chance to put things in context and into some perspective.”

The creation of Dan Rather: American Journalist took three years of research, digitization and curation to develop. The site is meant to become a tool for students and educators in journalism.

“The website is going to offer an opportunity to illuminate, to encourage, … (and) to look into the past as a way to solve problems today,” journalism sophomore Isaiah Zaragoza said.

Three of Rather’s former colleagues from his time at CBS — Jim Murphy, John Reade and Dana Roberson — joined Rather in the event panel and discussed their experiences working with him.

Reade cited Rather’s tireless reporting of the 9/11 terrorist attack as an example of his dedication to his role as a news anchor.

“He’s the hardest working man I’ve ever met in a hard-working industry,” Reade said.

The panel also discussed how the journalism industry has changed over the course of their careers. Journalists are now expected to be able to do more than just report, Roberson said. She said young journalists should learn new skills complementary to reporting.

“When I went to CBS and I had a team around me, I had a cameraman, the producer, anchor, … (and) editor,” Roberson said. “Now you guys have to do it all. They are asking you to shoot, jump in front of the camera, anchor, send it back and tweet all in a very short
period of time.”

Rather encouraged young journalists to work hard to achieve their dreams and improve their work.

“I’ve had a driving dream since I was a child about becoming a journalist,” Rather said. “Being a journalist can be particularly tough within the first few years. I had the dream and I was willing to work hard. … I still want to be as good as I can be.”