Conversations with History: Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley

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The 'Long March through the Institution' of Television Journalism: Conversation with Lowell Bergman, Reporter/Producer and Professor at the UCB Graduate School of Journalism; 1/31/01 by Harry Kreisler.

This interview is part of the Institute's "Conversations with History" series, and uses Internet technology to share with the public Berkeley's distinction as a global forum for ideas.

Welcome to a Conversation with History. I'm Harry Kreisler of the Institute of International Studies. Our guest today is Lowell Bergman, who is an award-winning reporter, producer, and journalism consultant who teaches in the Journalism School at UC Berkeley. Lowell Bergman was a founder of the Center of Investigative Journalism, and for the Investigative Reporters and Editors Group, which was formed in the aftermath of a slaying of an Arizona journalist. For more than thirty years he has worked in print and television, first in the alternative press at the San Diego Free Press, which became the San Diego Street Journal; then at ABC News; and finally, at CBS where he was a producer for the television program, 60 Minutes, for sixteen years. Mr. Bergman's reports regularly made news on subjects like the California prison system, Saddam Hussein's money, the tobacco industry, the international arms business, and the first television interviews with Lebanon's Hezbollah. The story of his fight to expose the tobacco industry and to protect his sources -- to keep his word to a tobacco whistler-blower -- is chronicled in the Michael Mann movie The Insider, in which Mr. Bergman is portrayed by Al Pacino. Lowell Bergman is the winner of numerous awards, including the George Foster Peabody Award, numerous Emmys, and the Alfred I. Dupont Gold Baton Award.

  1. Background ... influence of parents and grandparents ... politics at the dinner table ... grandparents' immigration ... matriarchy ... reading ... first job
  2. The Sixties ... education ... confronting contradictions ... keeping a balance ... Freedom Summer ... great teachers
  3. Political and Social Theory ... influential social theorists ... the question of legitimacy ... the appearance of freedom ... the 2000 presidential election ... getting information to the people ... the rules of the game ... the sugar-barons story
  4. Investigative Reporting ... focusing on power and profit ... choosing the right story ... telling the truth ... gaining trust
  5. The Grammar of Television News ... the power of the form ... the importance of the TV personality ... the absence of history ... the absence of the real reporter ... the "long march through the institution" ... the tobacco story and The Insider
  6. Conclusion ... being played by a famous actor ... lessons learned

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