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Newsman Who Broke Racial Barriers Dies

 

 

Harold DowRIDGEWOOD, NJ - "Long-time CBS News correspondent Harold Dow died suddenly this morning, Saturday, August 21, at the age of 62," CBS News announced on Saturday.

On Sunday night, CBS said Dow's family said the cause of death was apparently an asthma attack.

"At the time of Harold's death, he was suffering from adult onset asthma. On Monday, August 16, 2010, Harold checked himself into the Valley Hospital emergency room in Ridgewood for severe asthmatic symptoms. According to the Hackensack Police Department incident report, an inhaler was found on the floor of Harold's vehicle. Therefore, it is believed at this time that Harold succumbed to an asthma attack while behind the wheel," a family spokesperson said.

"Dow was a correspondent for 48 HOURS since 1990, after serving as a contributor to the broadcast since its premiere on January 19, 1988. Dow was also a contributor to the critically acclaimed 1986 documentary '48 Hours on Crack Street,' which led to creation of the single-topic weekly news magazine," the initial announcement said.

" 'CBS News is deeply saddened by this sudden loss,' said Sean McManus, President, CBS News and Sports. 'The CBS News family has lost one of its oldest and most talented members, whose absence will be felt by many and whose on-air presence and reporting skills touched nearly all of our broadcasts. We extend our deepest condolences to his wife Kathy, and their children JoelleDanica and David.'

"Over the course of his distinguished career at the network, Dow served as a correspondent for the CBS News magazine Street Stories (1992-93) and reported for the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, SUNDAY MORNING and the CBS News legal series, Verdict. He served as co-anchor on CBS News Nightwatch (1982-83), prior to which he had been a correspondent (1977-82) and reporter (1973-77) at the CBS News Los Angeles bureau.

"He covered many of the most important stories of our times, including 9/11 where he barely escaped one of the falling Twin Towers, the return of POW's from Vietnam and the kidnapping of Patricia Hearst, with whom he had an exclusive interview in December 1976, the movement of American troops into Bosnia and the Pan Am Flight 103 disaster. He also conducted the first network interview with O. J. Simpson following the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman.

" 'Harold Dow was a reporter for the ages. Insatiably curious, he was happiest when he was on the road deep into a story. He took pride in every story he did,' said 48 HOURS MYSTERY Executive Producer, Susan Zirinsky. 'It was his humanity, which was felt by everyone he encountered, even in his toughest interviews, that truly defined the greatness of his work. He was the most selfless man I have known. It is a tremendous loss for 48 HOURS, CBS News, and the world of journalism. I deeply miss him already.'"

As a 20-year-old student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 1968, Dow became the first black television reporter in the cityJeff Roberts reported in June for the Record in Bergen County, N.J.

"But the roots of Dow’s career trace back to Hackensack and his grandmother’s farm in South Carolina, where he spent his childhood summers picking cotton and tobacco.

“ 'It reminded me where we came from,' he said. 'It wasn’t pretty. I can say that.'

"Dow grew silent for a moment, his eyes hidden behind his mirrored sunglasses. Tears began streaming down his cheeks.

“ 'To know what it’s like in that hot sun, working from sunup to sundown, forbidden to be able to read or write for hundreds of years. . . . and that’s what you do as a journalist, the thing they say you can’t do,' said Dow. 'It’s all connected for me.' "

. . . On Assignment, CBS Colleagues Raise a Glass for Dow

"We r all together tonight on assignment," "60 Minutes" correspondent Byron Pitts e-mailed Journal-isms Saturday night. "We all raised a glass for our friend," Harold Dow.

"Harold was one of the funniest men I've ever known. Always welcoming, always willing to share his wisdom with those of us coming along. All of us owe him a debt of gratitude. He was a credit to our profession.

"As a journalist of color, he along with Ed Bradley is a cornerstone of my Mt. Rushmore."

Dow's friend and colleague and longtime CBS cameraman Dennis Dillon, who worked with Dow at "48 HRS," said, "He brought sunshine everywhere he went," Pitts reported.

Stan Wilkins, a CBS soundman, also on the overseas assignment, said, "He treated every person with great respect. We all will miss him."

"60 Minutes" producer Harry Radliffe said, "I never had the pleasure of working with Harold, but I always admired his skill as an interviewer. Harold's ability to talk with ordinary people reflected the fact that they were comfortable with him. They trusted him and they opened up him. I always felt that spoke volumes about Harold. He was honest and straightforward. What you saw was what you got. And what CBS News got was someone special. Harold was real; in today's news, a rare commodity."

Separately, Randall Pinkston, who now reports for CBS Newspath, told Journal-isms by e-mail an hour after he heard the news, "We, at CBS NEWS, are saddened and shocked. He was a trailblazer, a great journalist, a great friend and mentor. I shall miss him enormously."

And national correspondent Russ Mitchell, anchor of the "CBS Evening News" Sunday edition, said, "I would only add...Harold was my Angel. The go-to-guy who had done it, seen it, survived it. A man who took his role as a pioneer seriously and always had a smile and great advice. Yeah, he was a remarkable journalist but he was an even more incredible human being. I loved him and already miss him."

The Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education | 663 Thirteenth St., Suite 200, Oakland, CA 94612 | (510) 891-9202



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