2016 Silver Circle Inductee Essex Porter


The acorn of good journalism is humility. Humility is required to use two of the 1ournalisr's irreplaceable roofs. The curiosity to ask questions and the ability to listen to the answers. - Ken Auletta, The New Yorker

The CBS News Bulletin slide had just flashed on the screen, but I left my house so I would not be late returning to second grade from lunch. November 22, 1963, was the last time I would walk away from a television as a big story was breaking.

I grew up planning to be a scientist, but I was fascinated by the television correspondents covering history in a tumultuous age. In the days before cable, it was the CBS station that had the strongest signal at my house. Therefore, my career is inspired by the authority of Walter Cronkite, by the courage of Ed Bradley covering Vietnam and the White House, and by the doggedness of Connie Chung covering Capitol Hill. I was watching the political conventions when Cronkite congratulated Michele Clark on her promotion to CBS correspondent. While in college, I earned a scholarship named in her memory.

Whether it has been covering the local angles of 11 presidential campaigns. or witnessing the volcanic eruption of Mount St. Helens, I'm grateful to television journalism for a close-up view of history in the making. I'm grateful to all who pointed me in the right direction at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (BA. 1977): KLMS Radio, Lincoln: KETV, Omaha (1978-1979); KATU, Portland (1979-1982); and for 33 years at KIRO 7. I'm grateful to John Callaway for creating the William Benton Fellowship forBroadcast Journalists at The University of Chicago and selecting me to take part (1985).

I thank my wife, Cindy, my daughter, Kathryn. and my sister, Deborah, for supporting a man who is so easily distracted by the phrase Breaking News.

I'm grateful to my father, Essex M., who had newspapers sent from Chicago to Okinawa, so we could always be on top of the news, and to my mother Charla who insisted that I "speak up" in Sunday school.