Alumni CLASnotes Spring 2006
In This Issue:

CLAS Act

Forrest Sawyer (B.A., Religion, 1971
M.Ed., Education, 1976)

Forrest Sawyer
Forrest Sawyer
Forrest 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 researcher.

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.”

—Buffy Lockette

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