Friday, November 10, 2006

CBS Newsman Ed Bradley Passes On

Newsman Ed Bradley died at age 65 from complications due to leukaemia yesterday morning. He is probably best known as one of the correspondents on 60 Minutes, on which he had been 25 years.

Bradley was born on June 22, 1941 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His parents would sometimes both work two jobs just to make ends meet. He graduated from Cheney State College with a degree in education. After being a sixth grade teacher, he became a DJ and news reporter for a Philadelphia radio station in 1963. Four years later he got a job as a news reporter at WCBS in New York City. He joined CBS News and started working at their Paris bureau in 1971. A year later he transferred to Vietnam to cover the war. In 1974 he transferred to their Washington bureau. He became a regular news correspondent in 1973. In 1981 joined 60 Minutes. By CBS' standards he was relatively young at the time--he was only 40.

Over the years Bradley covered a wide range of topics. He won awards for his reports on abuse in the largest chain of psychiatric hospitals in the United States and a small town that was the victim of toxic waste. Over the years he interviewed such news makers as Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, boxer Muhammad Ali, comedian George Burns, and singer/actress Lena Horne.

He made several achievements in his lifetime. He was CBS News' first black reporter when he joined them in 1971. He was also the first black CBS White House correspondent and the first black correspondent on 60 Minutes. Over the years he won 16 Emmys, as well as a Peabody award, the National Association of Black Journalists Lifetime Achievement award, and many others.

Among the correspondents on 60 Minutes, Bradley was perhaps my favourite. While other correspondents had styles that could easily be described as aggressive (for example, Mike Wallace), Bradley's style was calm, cool, and collected. I can't remember during a news story or interview Bradley ever getting angry or getting shaken up. He was also one of CBS's few correspondents who was not afraid of pop culture. He not only interviewed many entertainers over the years, but he was also a jazz fanatic and knew a good deal about modern American music and American pop culture. Indeed, he even made guest appearances on Murphy Brown and The Chris Rock Show. At the same time, however, he was always a serious journalist who never compromised his principles. For me Bradley added life to a news outlet that could, at least in the Seventies, be stodgy at times. And he made 60 Minutes all the more interesting.

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