Among his witticisms:
On his first award in journalism: “I remember
thinking to myself, who else was competing?”
On Stephen Garcia: “I like him, especially
when he’s not throwing the ball.”
On the current genre of prison reality
shows: “It’s the same story
line over and over. The guy’s in prison for 30 years, he got some tats,
did some bad stuff in prison and he’s angry.
How many times can you show that?”
But at the crux of his comments, past his rollicking
jokes and brief recounting of his time in Columbia,
was his clear passion for boots-on-the-ground journalism
that is fair, poignant and sometimes uncomfortable.
That’s the kind of journalism that brought him
to a job offer with MSNBC but made him hesitant to accept
said offer. A top compliment for Melvin: when both Republicans
and Democrats say he should be fired for his biased reporting.
“I remember thinking, ‘Eesh! I’ve seen what they do on cable
news sometimes after 5 or 6 o’clock,’” Melvin said. “‘Do
I want to be associated with that?’”
The path to becoming a “screamer and shouter” often looks lucrative,
Melvin said, with rewards of “promotions, more resources and more staff.” And
that is coupled with the public’s changing appetite — its desire
for reporting with distinct bias and strong opinion, Melvin said. Should the
current television shows be saved into a vault for remembrance 200 years later,
the public wouldn’t be collectively proud, Melvin
As a journalist, “Once you sell out, you can’t sell back in,” Melvin
said. “It’s not a path I’m prepared to take. I’d
much rather tell stories and attempt to be objective
and not have people worry about my angle.”
Melvin said that deepening partisanship is often
reflected in his encounters with politicians. He briefly
recollected a recent interview with a U.S. senator
who totally eschewed his first question and launched
into previously prepared talking points. Melvin cut
him off, reminding him he didn’t even vaguely
answer the question.
The senator then asked him what the question was.
“These are men and women who spend their days and nights worrying about
re-election and not solving this country’s problems,” Melvin
But cutting through the crud and culling strong stories
that evoke passion and change, he said, require “young
men and young women who like to write, like to read,
have an intellectual curiosity about them and want to
spend their days telling stories.”
“What we do [as journalists] can still be impactful,” Melvin said. “...
Journalism is not dead. It’s changed, and it will
continue to change.”