On August 8th, 1974, I was the Washington Desk Assistant for "The ABC Evening News with Howard K. Smith and Harry Reasoner."
One of my duties was to distribute the wire copy from the Associated Press and Reuters teletype machines. When a bulletin would "move" across the wires, a bell would go off, alerting me to rip the five-ply yellow paper from the machine and distribute it to the writers, producers and anchors.
I had never seen a wire service "flash" or "snap" before. But, on this day, as the bells rang repeatedly, those words were typed out, one letter at a time, followed by just two more words - NIXON RESIGNS.
Only the top copy of teletype paper was imprinted with ink. The remaining copies underneath were pressure sensitive. The force of the mechanical letter striking the paper would leave a readable impression.
I kept copies of all the snaps, flashes and bulletins. Unfortunately, all the pressure sensitive copies have faded away with time. The only readable copy I have now is this bulletin.
Another of my duties was to distribute copies of the evening news script. The photo below is me delivering the anchor copy of that night's lead story, the Nixon resignation, to Howard K. Smith, the Washington anchor of the broadcast. I knew it was worth memorializing, so I asked a colleague to take the picture.
My interest in becoming a journalist was born when I was a lowly message router for Naval Intelligence at the Pentagon from 1970-72. I learned my government was lying to the citizenry about our actions in the Vietnam War. I resolved that when I became a civilian I would devote my career to exposing lies.
When I got out of the Navy I was fortunate to be hired as a Desk Assistant for ABC network news in Washington, as the Watergate scandal was unfolding. While I never became an "investigative reporter", I always treated every story I pursued with a passion for the truth.
At the Washington bureau, in the Seventies, I listened, I learned. I began honing my craft and, over time, moved up the ladder - Desk Assistant, Production Assistant, Production Associate, Associate Producer, Field Producer, Special Assignment Producer, Senior Producer, Executive Producer. Along the way, I helped launch cable news at CNN in 1980 and Internet news at MSNBC.com in 1996.
Most satisfyingly, over 40 years, I travelled to exotic places, met fascinating people, witnessed scenes I could not have seen, except as a journalist. I worked with ideas, images, sounds and words to craft compelling stories that were seen by millions of viewers. I was enriched.
I worked inside one of the most prestigious news organizations ever assembled, ABC News, during its heyday. The talented professionals I worked alongside of there - producers, correspondents, camera crews, editors, technicians, directors, writers - were committed to the truth. My colleagues were the standard-bearers of credibility and integrity.
We were represented on-air by the likes of Howard K. Smith, Harry Reasoner, Peter Jennings, Frank Reynolds, Sam Donaldson, David Brinkley, Charlie Gibson Now, in broadcast journalism, not so much. But, that is for a future rant.
This day, the anniversary of the inevitable downfall of a corrupt politician, his abuse of power exposed by a vigilant press, makes me, once again, proud to have been there, to have been one of the truth-tellers.