On Tuesday, October 7, Dan Rather gave a lecture about his 60 years of experience in journalism at the Economic Development Corporation of Utah’s annual meeting at the Grand America Hotel.
KUER’s Doug Fabrizio was the interviewer for the event, asking Dan Rather about everything from his origins as a journalist, to his most famous moments, and even about what turned out to be his last story for CBS.
Rather’s parents, Daniel Rather Sr. and Byrl Veda Page, loved watching the news and being informed.
His dad, as he described, would devour the newspapers, and told him as a kid that “the newspaper is the poor man’s university.”
At the age of 14, he was diagnosed with Avian Flu, which at the time had no cure. After Polio, it was one of the worst illnesses to get, since it could be fatal if it reached the heart.
The doctor told the family he could not move for months, so that the virus wouldn’t be able to reach his heart.
During the time alone, as he was lying still in bed, he found comfort in listening to the radio, his interest in journalism growing even more.
He got his first job as a young DJ/reporter at KSAN Radio in Texas, where he began doing what he would later be famous for: deep and controversial investigations.
Investigating a tip he got from the community about a hate crime, he was told by his co-workers and supervisors that releasing the story might make people upset, but he did it anyway.
Rather believes that journalism, at its best, is a service. This is something that can described as the signature style of his career.
At CBS, he brought to light many stories, no matter the political side or position of the person.
When it comes to the new era of journalism, Rather spoke on how new journalism has lost its gut. They don’t cover hard stories in fear of being controversial.
“There is a greater chance of not getting in trouble if you follow the herd,” said Rather.
He blames the corporations, who have more control over the media, and the government, which has more influence on the media, with fewer investigations as a result.
Rather has often pushed the limits of journalism, including criticizing the government, something that has usually been taboo.
In 2004, he uncovered the story of militants torturing Iraqi detainees, and brought the real story behind George W. Bush military service.
He believes media is now censoring information and is not what it once was, that’s why the partnership with CBS ended.
“A truly free press is the beating heart of freedom,” says Rather. “The US had it for a while, but is now starting to lose it.”