My father, the ex-pat American who has been unable to leave his heritage behind, loves to watch the national broadcast after watching the local and national Canadian news. His broadcast of choice, and mine (I liked to watch with him, so long as I kept my mouth shut!) was the ABC with Peter Jennings — I think this was his way of negotiating his two solitudes, the American and the Canadian.

Yeah, sure, network news is network news . . . but Jennings was different from the other two. There was something about his manner and delivery which gave the news respect, clarity, and depth. Tom Brokaw never seemed sincere, like he was acting, and Dan Rather . . . was a bit too scary, especially after that most recent crew cut just post-911. And it is true that ABC’s version was a bit more international in scope than the others.

Of course, sadly, it is always when someone dies that you discover all this stuff about how cool they really were (or, in some cases, weren’t). Jennings was not, when he first started out, a professionally trained journalist — he was a natural, coming to it through sheer curiousity and enormous experience and, later, education. He was a high school drop-out, like my mother, and there is no shame in that so long as you find your way again. And he made a point of recruiting young Canadian journalists into his fold, because he lived in the Ottawa area every summer.

So, rest in peace Mr. Jennings

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