Lessons in journalism from Mr. Rogers

  • Russ Walker/PA Post
Happy Monday! Before you start the week, please take a moment to support PA Post with contribution. Thanks to NewsMatch, a donation from you will be QUADRUPLED! A $10 gift would net $40 for our independent, nonpartisan newsroom. Better still, a $25 gift brings us a total of $100. Go to support.papost.org. And thank you to everyone who has already contributed. Journalism depends on support from readers like you.  –Russ Walker, PA Post editor

‘Point out injustice when you have to’

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

This June 28, 1989 file photo shows Fred Rogers taping a segment of his television program Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Mr. Rogers, the man who helped raise this author and so many others, is getting the Hollywood treatment in a new film starring Tom Hanks. I’m looking forward to going to see it after its release this coming weekend, but I didn’t expect to get a lesson in journalism from the man from Pittsburgh who journeyed with us to the “Neighborhood of Make Believe.”

The lesson is included in a wonderful profile of Hanks by New York Times writer Taffy Brodesser Akner. “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” isn’t a Mr. Rogers biopic. It’s based on a 1998 Esquire profile by Tom Junod, who in writing about Rogers found a new sense of self and purpose.

In Mr. Rogers’s papers, the writers of the movie found a file the children’s icon kept on Junod, a file meant to inspire his daily prayers for the writer.

“In that file, [Rogers] laid out four pillars of journalism that he hoped Junod would stick to: 1. Journalists are human beings not stenographers, human beings not automatons. 2. Point out injustice when you have to. 3. Point out beauty when you can. 4. Be aware of celebrating the wonders of creation.”

Mr. Rogers, thank you. Those four simple points are what I hope will guide me and my colleagues at PA Post. — RW

  • Too cute to omit: A Pittsburgh hospital greeted Fred Rogers’s widow, Joanne, with babies dressed in red cardigan sweaters like the one her husband donned every episode.

  • RIP to another Pittsburgh icon: Vera Clemente, widow of the Pirates great Roberto. She passed away Saturday at the age of 81 in Puerto Rico, her home and where she married the baseball great in 1964. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette looked at her importance to the Pirates organization and the city where her husband played for nearly two decades before his untimely death.

  • Another Hollywood item: Actor Dan Ackroyd was in Lancaster County on Friday to promote his … wait for it … Crystal Head vodka. LNP was there for the event.

  • One more: The Morning Call notes that Allentown native Lee Iacocca played a role in the real life events that inspired the new film, “Ford vs. Ferrari.”

Best of the rest

Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, D-Pa., pauses during a panel discussion at Delaware County Community College, Friday, May 24, 2019, in Media, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • If the House of Representatives votes on articles of impeachment against President Trump, those articles (i.e. charges) will be drafted by the House Judiciary Committee. Three Pennsylvania lawmakers sit on the committee, but it’s Mary Gay Scanlon of the state’s 5th District who will hold extraordinary sway as the committee’s vice chair. The York Daily Record profiled Scanlon, who was elected last year as part of the “pink wave” of women candidates that put Democrats back in the majority.

  • Who are the other two Pennsylvanians on the Judiciary Committee? They are Democrat Madeleine Dean of the 4th District, and Republican Guy Reschenthaler of the 14th District.

  • Impeachment may seem like a foregone conclusion in the House, but that doesn’t mean we — citizens of this republic — should ignore the process. That’s the message of a Sunday editorial from LNP. “This is only the fourth presidential impeachment inquiry in our nation’s history. That fact alone demands our serious attention. We all have an obligation to follow the process. And to use this as a teachable moment for our children and students. This is our democracy, our Constitution, in action,” the editors write.

  • An important non-impeachment story was published last week by The Morning Call about “insulin rationing” by diabetics who lack insurance coverage and incomes to buy the essential medicine. The piece is about a Lehigh Valley mother whose daughter, a diabetic, died because she couldn’t afford to buy sufficient supplies of insulin. The article ought to make readers mad.  If you know anyone struggling similarly, please point them to insulinhelp.org, a program run by the American Diabetes Association.

  • Again, happy Monday. As Mr. Rogers sang:

So let’s make the most of this beautiful day,

Since we’re together we might as well say,

Would you be mine?

Could you be mine?

Won’t you be my neighbor?

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