Friday, June 18, 2010

Watergate Revisited

June 1993 -- First time I have ever saw "All the President's Men" at Ohio State in an investigative reporting class.

As a journalism teacher, I show "All the President's Men" every year to my students. What's getting a little scary is that each year I show it, there seems to be more and more students who do not know what Watergate is, or who John Mitchell or Richard Nixon are... In fact, I am spending more time on background information to prepare students before they watch the film. I love the film and perhaps I too, feel this reverence for the film that helped me to define investigative reporting. About 50% of my students really appreciate the film, and other students know they should appreciate the film, but do not truly understand the significance.

The end of April, Ohio State and the John Glenn Institute hosted Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein to talk about the significance of Watergate and also the state of journalism today. I invited all of my journalism students. Out of 150 students, 3 attended. The presentation was awesome. At the Ohio Union, the two were in a small theater on the first floor, competing with another presentation by James Cameron (Avatar) who was to speak in a few hours on the floor above them. The two journalists bantered, interrupted and joked with one another as if they had been old rivals who had learned how to work together even despite their very different personalities. Bernstein would talk and talk and talk... and Woodward would graciously interrupt him to actually answer the question and get the conversation back on track. It was interesting, inspiring and one of the most thrilling speeches I have ever witnessed.

Having spent the HOT summer Phoenix day, traipsing up and down Central Ave. with my laptop and camera equipment on my back all in an effort to find people to interview yesterday. Having the opportunity to watch "All the President's Men" (while a great film) seemed like a daunting task after the afternoon assignment. Despite being tired and sensing that I needed a shower, I was refreshingly surprised the difference it made to watch "ATPM" on a large screen. Having watched the film for at least 200 times on small screen, I had missed the opportunity to see the details from the film — the lighting and the shadows, the sounds, and that same beige corduroy suit that Redford wore were so much more vivid and striking. There were scenes in the movie that had a new impact and caught my attention, just because I could actually see what was happening such as the ability to actually see "Deep Throat's" eyes when he was passionately talk with Robert Redford's character.

While my moment with meeting Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein was limited to about an hour, I relish the experience and wanted to share a few images and the .mp3 from local public radio's interview with the two journalists. I will continue to show "All the President's Men" every year, but these experiences of seeking a story and watching "ATPM" and meeting the two journalists have inspired me to endure to explain the back history for kids to "get it."

Below is a link to an .mp3 of an interview with Woodward and Bernstein:

Tracey Ward
Olentangy Liberty High School
Powell, Ohio

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