Mike Wallace Is Here

by Melissa Brunner

In the final moments of CBS Sunday Morning, Charles Osgood broke the news that they'd just learned legendary reporter Mike Wallace had passed away. He was 93 years old. That led into the first segment of Face the Nation, where an emotional Bob Schieffer paid tribute to his colleague and they played a piece Morley Safer put together on Wallace for 60 Minutes. Of all for which Mike Wallace is known, the final quote is what stuck with me:

"It's astonishing what you learn and feel and see along the way. That's why a reporter's job, as you know, is such a joy," he told Safer.

I would think most journalists would wholeheartedly agree with Wallace's statement. Even if you didn't appreciate his style of reporting, the quote reveals why he loved his job and that job was to share those lessons, feelings and sights with all of us.

As a young journalist, you watch a lot of reporters, digesting what you see, taking bits and pieces from each presentation, each writing style. That's not to say you copy, but you can emulate - taking the best of all worlds to settle into your own. From Wallace, I think you learn to appreciate the value of the tough question. I might not be a fan of the so-called "ambush interview" (although sometimes you have no other choice), but I do believe you can't be afraid to ask questions that might be difficult or controversial. You can't worry about whether someone will like the question when it's your job to get an answer. That said, it's been said many of those whom Wallace grilled had a great respect for him because he knew how to be direct with his questions, as opposed to disrespectful or offensive.

I'm not sure I'll work til the age of 89, like Wallace did, but I hope I enjoy the learning, feeling and seeing for many more years to come. It's why the job is such a joy - getting to share it all with you.




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