Forrest Sawyer (B.A., Religion, 1971
M.Ed., Education, 1976)
Forrest SawyerForrest Sawyer is an Emmy Award winning
broadcast journalist famous for his work as a reporter and anchor for
ABC, CBS and NBC. But these days the religion alumnus rarely tunes in
to television newscasts. Having left the anchor desk to open his own
production company, the former talking head has some interesting things
to say about America’s mainstream news media.
ACn: How does a guy with a bachelor’s degree in religion become
one of America’s leading journalists?
FS: Journalism is a craft you can learn in a variety
of ways. My religion major gave me a much broader view of the world than
I would have had if I had just majored in journalism.
ACn: At what moment
did you decide you wanted to become a journalist?
FS: After earning a bachelor’s in religion and master’s
in education from UF, I had planned to go on to a doctoral program in
wildlife behavior but first spent a summer in Atlanta working at a radio
station that had just switched to an all-news format. It was a great
post-graduate education and I decided I was a better dilettante than
ACn: The news media has changed dramatically in the
past decade. Where do you think it is headed?
FS: I don’t watch
TV news, except for maybe "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart". Our media
are owned by a few very large corporations that are in business to make
money and the idea they should exist for the common good has long since
disappeared. I argue that the idea that large corporations can control
information like they did in the past is gone. The blogosphere is now
driving mainstream media. A single report that used to be in The
Washington Post, read by a few people, now—because
of the echoing effect of the Internet—is seen worldwide. It’s
noisy, messy, and there are many things people don’t like on it—and
I think that’s wonderful.
ACn: What are you doing now that you have
retired from network news?
FS: I have created Freefall Productions and
am working on several documentaries. I have several projects in the works,
including presidential tours of Kenya and Zambia and a climate study
with the American Museum of Natural History. I’m also acting. I
just wrapped a film in which I was an archeologist, "For
Sale By Owner",
and I play an agent in the upcoming film "Crazy Heart". Everything
is performance—whether you’re
giving a speech or a newscast.”
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