Joseph Lindsley Is Modern-Day Edward R. Murrow, Listen To Ukraine Reporting From”Edge Of The Free World”

“Not even for a second could I imagine abandoning the country in that moment, especially as a journalist,” Joe Lindsley said.

If you know of my deep respect for the wartime reporting of Edward R. Murrow on the radio it will be clear that I do not place the headline on this post lightly. Having first listened to the recordings as a teenager of Murrow painting epic-sized images over the airwaves of the carnage and fear from WWII, and then over the past decades as I studied various aspects of history allows me to properly conclude that Joseph Lindsley now walks in Murrow’s shoes.  If you know of and listen to the Ukraine-based reporter you already likely agree with my assessment.  If you are not aware of Lindsley’s work, please continue reading.

The reason I write today is due to Lindsley’s latest on-air coverage provided this morning on WGN radio’s Bob Sirott morning show. Listen to it here. The obvious nerves and stress and fast pacing of his words and details are a stark reminder of the work that today placed him in the heart of the battle.  The bombed and shelled buildings which are rubble around him and the warnings that are given about when to stay indoors are underscored by his descriptions from “the edge of the free world”.  Safety in Ukraine is termed by this reporter as “Russian roulette, if it hits your building it hits your building”.

Like most people who were born after WWII, it is hard to truly understand the fear and uncertainty that was engendered from that international calamity, or the way radio news announcers like Charles Collingwood, Bill Shirer, and of course, Edward Murrow reported the grit and hardness of scenes in Europe as Germany destroyed the social fabric. Many of us likely recall the scenes from the television show The Waltons, sitting around the living room radio hearing about Hitler’s military might and the rise of Nazism. Their dread and powerlessness were best registered on the face of Grandma. But that same sense of over-powering emotions has come through the radio over the past six months as Lindsley gives his accounts of Russian aggression in Ukraine.

Listening to Edward Murrow’s recordings at least 25 years after they were reported from Europe while enjoying my larger bedroom back home after my brother left home, further confirmed why radio enthralled me. Now many a weekday morning as I listen to Lindsley from Ukraine on WGN I find that same intimacy with the medium to be again as strong as I know it was for the listeners around the world who heard Murrow from London.

Journalists and reporters are the reason our democracy thrives.  That has long been a point made on this blog. But their professional role in providing a world with news and facts on a daily basis, as Lindsley does, requires we honor and salute their intrepid efforts.

As We Move Forward As A Nation….

As we begin fresh with the inauguration of a new president, I trust there will be many reporters in our land who will strive to emulate this great American journalist pictured on the book jacket below. Each citizen now has a chance to step up to the plate and align ourselves with the ideals of the nation. We have seen what happens when we pretend such work is not important, or that it can be left to others who care not what happens. The first and vital step on that journey is to be fact-based and well-informed about the news in this country and how world events shape our policy moves.

As is often stressed on Caffeinated Politics the best way to understand our current times is to be rooted in the knowledge of our rich past. As such, Edward R. Murrow can teach us much about what is best about journalism and how it absolutely impacts our democracy. He is, in my definition, an essential American. Younger folks who may not know of him should learn why he matters so much to this nation, and older readers should again anchor themselves to the idea of what this nation was founded upon. Too many people have no understanding of the role of a working press or the way those men and women are more important to our democracy than any member of the military.

We Need To Heed Words From Edward R. Murrow

Today as I sat outside I thought of the words Edward R. Murrow said many decades ago.  Tonight I post them as they are relevant to the Trump mess which we, again, find ourselves in as a nation.  As a former broadcaster I have great respect for Murrow,  and as reader of history I have deep regard for his words.

In his famous commentary from March 9, 1954, he said Joseph McCarthy’s primary achievement “has been in confusing the public mind” about communism. Then he said: “We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men – not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular.”

“This is no time for men who oppose Senator McCarthy’s methods to keep silent, or for those who approve,” Murrow said. “We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of a republic to abdicate his responsibilities. As a nation we have come into our full inheritance at a tender age. We proclaim ourselves, as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom, wherever it continues to exist in the world, but we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.”

Do you remember how Murrow’s commentary ended? This way: He said McCarthy’s actions “have caused alarm and dismay amongst our allies abroad and given considerable comfort to our enemies. And whose fault is that? Not really his. He didn’t create this situation of fear; he merely exploited it – and rather successfully. Cassius was right. ‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.’ Good night and good luck.”

But do we learn the lesson?

And so it goes.

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