Editor's Note: On Friday April 30, 2010, veteran journalist Bill Moyers, host of the PBS public affairs series Bill Moyers Journal, retired from broadcasting at the age of 75.
Like a lot of people across the country who are troubled by the crisis of journalism, I have mixed feelings about your retirement from the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).
On one hand, I have grave misgivings about the future of investigative journalism and current affairs programming on public television. Despite assurances from PBS executives to the contrary, I fear that in your absence journalistic standards on U.S. public television will decline precipitously.
On the other hand, I appreciate your desire to take a break from the demands of a weekly public affairs program. You have been a fixture on public television for as long as I can remember, and you deserve some time for yourself.
"I salute you, Bill Moyers, for all you have done to practice the craft of journalism."
Of course, I have no doubt that you will continue to do your life's work, albeit in a slightly less public manner. In any case, as you signoff from PBS, I wanted to say, "Thank you."
Thank you for never shying away from controversial subjects: abuses of executive power, reproductive rights, the separation of church and state, the corrosive influence of lobbying in legislative processes or the privatization of the military are but a few "hot topics" you have explored.
Thanks for providing in-depth and substantive coverage of the most critical public policy issues of our day -- from campaign finance reform and climate change, to health care, education, housing, immigration, the war on terror and, of course, the future of journalism.
Thanks for your unflinching commitment to journalistic integrity. In an era marked by soft news, scandal, celebrity journalism and lifestyle reporting, it's all too commonplace for news workers to follow the pack. You lead by example. Never one to take the path of least resistance, you have demonstrated the value and significance of high-caliber broadcast journalism for over 40 years.
"Despite assurances from PBS executives to the contrary, I fear that in your absence journalistic standards on U.S. public television will decline precipitously."
Thanks for mentoring generations of news workers -- professional, independent and citizen journalists alike -- who share your concern for the state of our democracy and who take seriously the decisive role journalism plays in promoting enlightened and informed self-governance.
Thanks for asking tough questions, for inviting your guests to engage in a civil dialogue and debate, and for speaking your mind with great wit, compassion and insight.
Thanks for being such a forceful and effective advocate of public media. For taking issue with the commercialization of public broadcasting, for supporting ongoing media reform efforts and for defending the First Amendment with such wisdom and grace.
Thanks for sharing your curiosity with the nation. Here, I'm thinking about some truly important documentary series you have produced, such as The Public Mind, The Power of Myth and Faith and Reason. Like few others' in either commercial or public broadcasting, your work embraces and celebrates the diversity of human culture and experience.
Thanks, finally, for celebrating our living democracy. Fashionable as cynicism is these days, you defy defeatism, resignation and populist pandering. Over the course of your long and illustrious career, you have demonstrated time and time again the virtues of our experiment in democracy.
I salute you, Bill Moyers, for all you have done to practice the craft of journalism in support of a democratic culture.
And I wish you and your family all the best in your retirement.
Kevin Howley is associate professor of media studies at DePauw University and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He is editor of Understanding Community Media (Sage, 2010). He writes regularly on media, culture and politics at e-chreia.