CBS journalists inspire students

Many people can wake up to the smooth voice of Russ Mitchell, eat dinner while watching memorable story told by Byron Pitts, Randall Pinkston or Bill Whitaker and fall asleep to the mysteries of Harold Dow, but the students of Florida A&M’s journalism school were given the opportunity to see and speak with these five prominent men of the CBS Network.

The program at Hotel Duval, and hosted by CBS Evening News producer, Kim Goodwin, began with a man who has been in the business for 44 years. 

Dow said he got his start by being at the right place at the right time. 

“I was the first black man viewers ever had in their living room, kitchen and bedroom,” Dow said.

More than 40 years ago, Dow began his television career in Omaha, Neb., where he was the first black person to appear on the local station.  Since 1990 he has been a correspondent for “48 Hours.” Dow has been recognized for his work with five Emmy awards.

Each of the five men brought a video to show some of their best work. Dow chose to show a piece on President Barack Obama and Medgar W. Evers. His message was to to “Dream big dreams in the field of journalism and make them into a reality.”

Randall Pinkston, who has 38 years in the business came next. Pinkston became a New York based-CBS News correspondent in 1994. The Jackson, Miss. native reports for the CBS Evening News and other CBS News broadcasts.

Pinkston said: “I look at journalism as not just a job, but as public service and trying to speak truth to power. When an opportunity comes along, seize it.” He finished with a video on a homeless football player who received his degree because of his football coach.

Taking the podium next was Russ Mitchell, who has been with CBS News since 1992.  He has been working for 27 years, but for the past three years, he has been anchor of the

“CBS Evening News Sunday Edition” and the “Early Morning Show.”

His advice was to embrace people you meet on the way to your dream.

“People are going to tell you things you don’t want to hear, but never stop,” Mitchell said.

“Always think on your feet.”

His video featured an interview with the well-known and respected poet Maya Angelou.

Bill Whitaker, a 29-year veteran, grew up in the Philadelphia area, a CBS News correspondent based in Los Angeles. He covers the U.S.-Mexico border, illegal immigration and the Mexican drug wars. He was the lead reporter for both O.J Simpson trials.

Whitaker stressed the importance of having a mentor.

“You can no longer say there is no one on television that looks like you,” Whitaker said.

Finishing up the program was Byron Pitts of East Baltimore. Recently, he was promoted to correspondent for “60 Minutes” and chief national for the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric in 2008.

Pitts received an Emmy award for his coverage on the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Pitts’ video was an emotional story about struggling. Pitts said be prepared to work extremely hard.