Randall Pinkston

Inside Media: Covering News Around the World

September 14, 2008

Guest: Randall Pinkston

In 37 years as a television reporter, Randall Pinkston has seen plenty of changes in the news business.

A correspondent for CBS News since 1990, Pinkston became one of the first African-American news anchors in the South when WLBT-TV in Jackson, Miss., recruited him in 1971 as a news trainee in an effort to diversify its staff.

The station became "truly integrated racially," Pinkston said, and his colleagues were supportive and helpful. But he later learned that during his time there, the station had received bomb threats in response to its integration.

"I'm glad I didn't know about them," Pinkston said.

He went on to report for CBS affiliates in Jacksonville, Fla., Hartford, Conn. and New York City before becoming the network's White House correspondent in 1990. He has covered major national stories and has reported from Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo and Haiti.

Pinkston cited innovations in technology as having the greatest impact in his work. His reporting began "at the tail end of the old technology" — film, film processors and light meters — and at "the beginning of electronic news gathering."

But the high-speed innovations can have drawbacks, Pinkston warned.

"Frankly, I think sometimes the turnaround is too fast, because if you really want to do a responsible job with journalism, there needs to be time to vet the information that you're getting, research it to make sure that it is true, and think about it so you can decide how you're going to present it."

And despite the newest trends in technology, news presentation or even charges of media "elitism," Pinkston sees the core of his work as unchanging.

"When I do a story, I'm doing it …the old-fashioned way," he said. "I don't think about elitism, I don't think about blogs, I don't think about what somebody's going to say about this particular topic. I'm just trying to do a good, solid job as a reporter."

"Inside Media," produced by the Newseum, is open to the public. Seating is on a space-available basis.

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