Peter Jennings

Peter Jennings

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Peter Jennings was born in Toronto, Canada, on the 29th July, 1938. His father, Peter Charles Jennings, was a senior executive of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Jennings dropped out of high school at 17 and never attended college. In 1962 he became a news presenter on Canadian Television (CTV). While covering the Democratic National Convention he was seen by the president of ABC News who offered him a reporting job in New York.

In February, 1965, Jennings was promoted to anchor the ABC evening news. This involved him going head-to-head with Walter Cronkite at CBS. He was not considered a success and was replaced as anchor in 1968.

Jennings became a foreign correspondent. This included reporting the Vietnam War. Later he headed the ABC's Beirut Bureau and made an award winning programme on Egyptian president, Anwar Sadat. He also covered the Munich Olympics siege by managing to get inside the athletics' quarter of the Olympic Village.

In 1978 Jennings returned to the studio and became the anchor of ABC's World News Tonight. This time he was highly successful and by 1992 Jennings was drawing an average audience of nearly 14 million people each night. Now one of America's most popular television personalities he earned an estimated $10 million a year.

Jennings always took a keen interest in the assassination of John F. Kennedy and produced the Dangerous World, The Kennedy Years (1993) and The Kennedy Assassination — Beyond Conspiracy (2003). In the second of these documentaries Jennings argued that the Warren Report had been unfairly criticized and that Lee Harvey Oswald was guilty of this crime.

By 1992 Jennings drew an average audience of over 13 million people each night. As one of America's most popular television personalities he earned an estimated $10 million a year. He was also the co-author with Todd Brewster of two history books, The Century (1998) and In Search of America (2001).

Peter Jennings died of lung cancer on 7th August, 2005.

Forty years later, suspicions of a conspiracy endure: Seven in 10 Americans think the assassination of John F. Kennedy was the result of a plot, not the act of a lone killer — and a bare majority thinks that plot included a second shooter on Dealey Plaza.

ABCNEWS has completed a poll in conjunction with a two-hour ABCNEWS special, Peter Jennings Reporting: The Kennedy Assassination — Beyond Conspiracy, airing 9-11 p.m. (EST) Thursday, Nov. 20. The program includes a computer-generated reconstruction of the shooting that confirms that Oswald was the lone gunman. And it finds no persuasive evidence of a conspiracy to kill the president.

Just 32 percent accept the Warren Commission's 1964 finding that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone when he shot Kennedy as his motorcade passed through downtown Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. Fifty-one percent think there was a second gunman, and seven percent go so far as to think Oswald wasn't involved at all.

Sixty-eight percent of Americans also think there was "an official cover-up" to hide the truth about the assassination from the public. And about as many, 65 percent, think that "important unanswered questions" remain, four decades after Kennedy's death.

While such suspicions are well-documented - and well-stoked by conspiracy theorists - for many people they're guesses, not convictions. In a new follow-up question, fewer than half of Americans, four in 10, say they're "pretty sure" there was a plot; another three in 10 say it's just a hunch. Similarly, half of those who suspect a second shooter say this, too, is just their hunch.

Suspicion has been long-running; as far back as 1966, a Harris poll found that 46 percent of Americans thought there was a "broader plot" in the assassination. This jumped to 60 percent in 1967, after New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison filed charges alleging a conspiracy (the man he charged, Clay Shaw, was acquitted in 1969).

Belief in a broader plot peaked at 80 percent in a 1983 ABCNEWS poll; it's since eased a bit, to today's 70 percent. Similarly, the number of people who think there was an official cover-up has moved back from its peak, 81 percent in 1993, to 68 percent now.

No other murder in history has produced as much speculation as that of President John F. Kennedy. Forty years after he was fatally shot, more than 80 percent of Americans still believe there was a conspiracy to kill the president and that the assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, did not act alone. After a thorough investigation, including more than 70 interviews, ABCNEWS has produced a two-hour special that separates facts from conspiracy theories and gets to the truth. The special aired on Thursday, Nov. 20th 2003, two days before the 40th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. "There has been so much innuendo and presumption in the conspiracy theories, that on this 40th anniversary of the president's murder, the subject cries out for review," said Peter Jennings, who anchors the special. "The truth is knowable." Peter Jennings Reporting: The Kennedy Assassination Beyond Conspiracy showcases intricate forensic technology that makes it possible to be an eyewitness to the crime of the century, allowing viewers to see precisely what happened in Dallas' Dealey Plaza on Nov. Award-winning animator Dale Myers has spent the last decade creating a three-dimensional, computer-generated reconstruction of the assassination based on maps, blueprints, physical measurements, more than 500 photographs, the Zapruder film, and crime-lab and autopsy reports. His work has been independently evaluated and given the highest marks by the foremost practitioners of this type of forensic analysis. ABCNEWS conducted extensive interviews with friends and family of Oswald and his killer, Jack Ruby; former officials from the CIA, FBI, the Russian KGB and the Dallas Police; important players in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations; and participants in the various official investigations, including the Warren Commission.

It's been 40 years, and still the debate continues. Was Lee Harvey Oswald part of a conspiracy to kill President John F. Kennedy, or did he act alone?

A documentary airing Thursday on ABC, one of several programs this week observing the 40th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination Nov. 22, 1963, claims to offer proof that Oswald was the only gunman.

Will ABC's film, "Peter Jennings Reporting: The Kennedy Assassination – Beyond Conspiracy," resolve all the doubts? Probably not. After all, as Robert Kennedy biographer Evan Thomas observes, Americans want to believe "when something terrible happens in America, there has to be a reason for it. It's not good enough to say some nut with a rifle killed JFK. Such a monstrous thing, there must be a monster plot."

Not necessarily, says computer animator Dale Myers. With his help, ABC's documentary looks at the assassination from a different angle. Literally. Myers, says ABC News anchor Peter Jennings, has been studying the assassination for more than 25 years. Starting with Abraham Zapruder's eight-millimeter home movie of the Dallas shooting, plus maps, measurements, blueprints and more than 500 photographs, he created a computer animation of Kennedy and Texas Gov. John Connally riding in that familiar open convertible. "When all of these elements come together, we can now leave the place where Zapruder was filming," says Jennings, as Zapruder's camera seems to fly across the street, "and see the shooting from any point of view, each an accurate representation of precisely what happened."

Myers plays back the Zapruder film frame by frame, dissolves to his computerized images, and notes that Kennedy and Connally seem to be hit by a bullet at the same instant. He concludes that the first bullet to hit Kennedy "is going to hit Governor Connally exactly where he was hit. The fact that they both react at the same time clinches it. It's not a 'magic bullet' at all. It's not even a single bullet theory at all in my opinion. It's a single bullet fact." Tracing the bullet's path backward, he claims, "you can start with, for instance, with Governor Connally's entrance wound in his back, connect that with the point of exit on the President's throat, take that line and project it rearward. What we end up with is a line that goes right back through the sniper's nest window in the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository." That "nest," of course, is where investigators later found three spent shell casings. Executive producer Tom Yellin has said the documentary "leaves no room for doubt" that Oswald acted alone. "It's irrefutable." Jennings notes, by the way, that "If the crime were committed today, forensic investigators would unquestionably use this technique." And if the crime were committed today, there would be dozens, if not hundreds, of home videos of the scenario.

Peter Jennings Dies at 67

Aug. 7, 2005 — -- ABC News Anchor Peter Jennings died today at his home in New York City. He was 67. On April 5, Jennings announced he had been diagnosed with lung cancer.

He is survived by his wife, Kayce Freed, his two children, Elizabeth, 25, and Christopher, 23, and his sister, Sarah Jennings.

"Peter died with his family around him, without pain and in peace. He knew he'd lived a good life," his wife and children said in a statement.

In announcing Jennings' death to his ABC colleagues, News President David Westin wrote:

"For four decades, Peter has been our colleague, our friend, and our leader in so many ways. None of us will be the same without him.

"As you all know, Peter learned only this spring that the health problem he'd been struggling with was lung cancer. With Kayce, he moved straight into an aggressive chemotherapy treatment. He knew that it was an uphill struggle. But he faced it with realism, courage, and a firm hope that he would be one of the fortunate ones. In the end, he was not.

"We will have many opportunities in the coming hours and days to remember Peter for all that he meant to us all. It cannot be overstated or captured in words alone. But for the moment, the finest tribute we can give is to continue to do the work he loved so much and inspired us to do."

President Bush praised Jennings' work, and said Americans will miss his reporting.

"Laura and I were saddened to learn about the death of Peter Jennings," Bush said. "Peter Jennings had a long and distinguished career as a news journalist. He covered many important events, events that helped define the world as we know it today. A lot of Americans relied upon Peter Jennings for their news. He became a part of the lives of a lot of our fellow citizens, and he will be missed. May God bless his soul."

Reported World-Shaping Events

As one of America's most distinguished journalists, Jennings reported many of the pivotal events that have shaped our world.

He was in Berlin in the 1960s when the Berlin Wall was going up, and there in the '90s when it came down. He covered the civil rights movement in the southern United States during the 1960s, and the struggle for equality in South Africa during the 1970s and '80s.

He was there when the Voting Rights Act was signed in the United States in 1965, and on the other side of the world when black South Africans voted for the first time. He has worked in every European nation that once was behind the Iron Curtain. He was there when the independent political movement Solidarity was born in a Polish shipyard, and again when Poland's communist leaders were forced from power.

And he was in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Romania and throughout the Soviet Union to record first the repression of communism and then its demise. He was one of the first reporters to go to Vietnam in the 1960s, and went back to the killing fields of Cambodia in the 1980s to remind Americans that, unless they did something, the terror would return.

On Dec. 31, 1999, Jennings anchored ABC's Peabody-award winning coverage of Millennium Eve, "ABC 2000." Some 175 million Americans watched the telecast, making it the biggest live global television event ever. "The day belonged to ABC News," wrote The Washington Post, ". with Peter Jennings doing a nearly superhuman job of anchoring." Jennings was the only anchor to appear live for 25 consecutive hours.

Jennings also led ABC's coverage of the Sept. 11 attacks and America's subsequent war on terrorism. He anchored more than 60 hours that week during the network's longest continuous period of news coverage, and was widely praised for providing a reassuring voice during the time of crisis. TV Guide called him "the center of gravity," while the Washington Post wrote, "Jennings, in his shirt sleeves, did a Herculean job of coverage." The coverage earned ABC News Peabody and duPont awards.

Overseas, and at Home

Jennings joined ABC News on Aug. 3, 1964. He served as the anchor of "Peter Jennings with the News" from 1965 to 1967.

He established the first American television news bureau in the Arab world in 1968 when he served as ABC News' bureau chief for Beirut, Lebanon, a position he held for seven years. He helped put ABC News on the map in 1972 with his coverage of the Summer Olympics in Munich, when Arab terrorists took Israeli athletes hostage.

In 1975, Jennings moved to Washington to become the news anchor of ABC's morning program "A.M. America". After a short stint in the mornings, Jennings returned overseas to Rome where he stayed before moving to London to become ABC's Chief Foreign Correspondent. In 1978 he was named the foreign desk anchor for "World News Tonight." He co-anchored the program with Frank Reynolds in Washington, D.C., and Max Robinson in Chicago until 1983.

Jennings was named anchor and senior editor of "World News Tonight" in 1983. In his more than 20 years in the position he was honored with almost every major award given to television journalists.

His extensive domestic and overseas reporting experience was evident in "World News Tonight's" coverage of major crises. He reported from all 50 states and locations around the globe. During the 1991 Gulf War and the 2003 War in Iraq, his knowledge of Middle Eastern affairs brought invaluable perspective to ABC News' coverage of the war in Iraq and the drug trade in Central and South America.

The series also tackled important domestic issues such as gun control policy, the politics of abortion, the crisis in funding for the arts and a highly praised chronicle of the accused bombers of Oklahoma City. "Peter Jennings Reporting" earned numerous awards, including the 2004 Edward R. Murrow award for best documentary for "The Kennedy Assassination -- Beyond Conspiracy."

Jennings also had a particular interest in broadcasting for the next generation. He did numerous live news specials for children on subjects ranging from growing up in the age of AIDS, to prejudice and its effects on our society. After the events of September 11, and again on the first anniversary, he anchored a town hall meeting for children and parents titled, "Answering Children's Questions."

Jennings was honored with many awards for news reporting, including 16 Emmys, two George Foster Peabody Awards, several Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards and several Overseas Press Club Awards. Most recently, "World News Tonight" was recognized with two consecutive Edward R. Murrow awards for best newscast, based on field reporting done by Jennings on the California wildfires and the transfer of power in Iraq.

Jennings was the author, with Todd Brewster, of the acclaimed New York Times best seller, "The Century." It featured first-person accounts of the great events of the century. In 1999, he anchored the 12-hour ABC series, "The Century," and ABC's series for The History Channel, "America's Time." He and Brewster also published "In Search of America," a companion book for the six-part ABC News series.

Son: Dad Once 'Made Smoking Look Good' But In End, Made 'Smoking Look Deadly'

Chris Jennings writes about his father's efforts to quit smoking.

Nov. 26, 2010 — -- Official family history states that when I was seven and my sister was nine, the two of us convinced our father to quit smoking. I have no actual recollection of this. I simply remember him smoking and then not smoking. He remained quit for over a decade and then we started smoking together.

That first effort at quitting took place in the office of a Boston hypnotist. Smokers tend to have vivid memories of any cigarette given the (usually false) designation of "last." My father told me that on the way to his appointment in Boston he frantically worked his way through a pack of Dunhills, trying to squirrel away enough nicotine to weather the coming winter. Whatever happened in that office -- I always imagine a swinging pocket watch: You are getting very sleepy -- it worked. He left home a two pack-a-day smoker and came back a five pack-a-day gum chewer. The warm tobacco scent of his breath was replaced with the cinnamon of Big Red.

When I was 18, and had been surreptitiously smoking for about four years, my father and I went on our annual canoe trip in Quebec. We paddled through a chain of windy lakes having the expansive debates that we enjoyed during that period. Sometime during my late teens it dawned on me that my father was a person with tastes and notions that were not totally unlike my own. Our old fixed roles -- teacher vs. pupil breadwinner vs. ingrate -- began to dissolve and we found ourselves meeting as two curious adults. This sudden and unexpected discovery of one another, as if we hadn't been there all along, was a thrill to us both. Nobody in my family ever took to the peculiar notion that parents and their children could be friends, but during those years my father and I became something like confidants. We began a feast of mutual respect that lasted until he died and brought us both a lot of pleasure and confidence.

Late in the afternoon of our first day out, we paddled through a narrow passage and emerged onto Lac Vert, a large granite-bottomed lake with water so clear that fish were visible at more than twenty feet. We paddled the lake's perimeter, surveying various campsites before settling on a small rocky island which we imagined might lower our odds of meeting a bear.

After pitching camp and eating several rounds of fried eggs, I pulled a crushed pack of Winstons from my jeans and offered one to dad as casually as I could. He hesitated, glancing between me and the pack, before realizing his role in the small bit of theatre I had initiated. He gave me a slight nod -- much obliged, partner -- and slid a cigarette from the pack. He lit it off my extended match, a strike-anywhere which struck mercifully on the first try. Holding the cigarette between his lips he took out a slim pewter flask and offered me a sip of pocket-warmed vodka. We stretched our damp feet toward the fire and leaned back to smoke, completely intoxicated on the absurd manliness of the whole scene.

We smoked together for several years. (He eventually told me that he had already begun backsliding when I proffered that Winston on Lac Vert.) Because almost everyone else was smart enough to disapprove, our smoking never lost the thrill of a conspiracy. Every furtive cigarette came with a fatherly preamble on the agonies of quitting and the well-known health risks. Unfortunately, those mini-lectures didn't stand a fighting chance. Good sense was easily dwarfed by the pleasure of strolling together through Central Park on winter nights, the dog trotting ahead of us, happily puzzled as to why she was getting so many walks.

Before my father was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2005 we had both been quit for a few years (with the obligatory string of lapses). There's no way of knowing if his relatively brief return to cigarettes was responsible for his lung cancer or if the damage had already been done by his decades of heavy smoking. I've often wondered darkly if it was one of our shared cigarettes that caused that rogue cell in his lung to start mindlessly replicating itself.

My father was once one of those people who made smoking look good -- the urban squire in his dinner jacket, a silver lighter on the dresser amongst cufflinks and collar stays -- but he ended up as one of those people who made smoking look deadly.

I have several good photographs of my father smoking: a black and white shot shows him hunched over an ancient Remington portable, his index fingers poised above the keys and the slightest squint in his eye from the cigarette on his lip a picture from the late '60s shows him lazing on one elbow at the news desk, his on-air cigarette and muttonchops vying for chief anachronism a snapshot from my high school graduation shows the two of us arm-in-arm, mugging for someone's camera, our parallel cigarettes held aloft in a pose of mock defiance and victory -- a pair of grinning criminals. These pictures stay at the bottom of their drawer. I don't like looking at any of them.

And that's the problem: now that he's gone, almost all of the sweetness is drained from these memories of smoking. It takes a remarkable trick of the mind to smoke despite so many good reasons not to. It's a trick that baffles non-smokers, but, unfortunately, it is one of those mental tricks that we perform without even noticing. All it takes is a touch of editing and the immense hazards seem negligible.

I'm hoping that a similar trick of the mind will eventually edit the cigarettes out of several of my finest recollections of my father. In the meantime, these memories are unusable.

CLICK HERE to visit the American Lung Association website to learn more about Lung Cancer Awareness Month.

Peter Jennings Biography

Peter Charles Archibald Ewart Jennings, CM was a Canadian American journalist and news anchor. He was the sole anchor of ABC's World News Tonight from 1983 until his death in 2005 of complications from lung cancer. A high-school dropout, he transformed himself into one of American television's most prominent journalists.

Jennings started his career early, hosting a Canadian radio show at the age of nine. He began his professional career with CJOH-TV in Ottawa during its early years, anchoring the local newscasts and hosting a teen dance show, Saturday Date, on Saturdays.

In 1965, ABC News tapped him to anchor its flagship evening news program. His inexperience was attacked by critics and others in television news, making for a difficult first stint in the anchor chair. Jennings became a foreign correspondent in 1968, reporting from the Middle East.

He returned as one of World News Tonight's three anchors in 1978, and was promoted to the role of sole anchor in 1983. Source: Wikipedia



St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, St. James Press, 2000.


America, April 30, 1994, p. 18.

American Journalism Review, November, 2001, p. 40.

Broadcasting & Cable, September 27, 1993, p. 36.

Economist, October 23, 1993, p. A38.

Maclean's, July 1, 2000, p. 34.

People Weekly, August 30, 1993, p. 48.

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Interview with Peter Jennings

Though books and magazines have trafficked in Jesus scholarship for years, "The Search for Jesus" is a landmark for prime-time network television. It is, in a way, not surprising that Jennings and ABC would be the ones to do it. As a former Middle East correspondent, Jennings has long been fascinated by religion. He has been sharply critical of how the media cover religion and likes to boast that ABC is the only network to have a full-time religion reporter.

Will the show be controversial? Jennings has heard criticisms that the show relied too heavily on the Jesus Seminar, a group of controversial scholars who challenge the historical accuracy of many key elements of the New Testament. (Jennings counters that those scholars are well-balanced in the show by more conservative academics.) More important, the very premise--a journalistic look at Jesus--will strike some as, at best, beside the point, and at worst, offensive.

Jennings recently sat down to talk about Jesus and the show with Steven Waldman, editor-in-chief of Beliefnet, which starting Monday will host a weeklong discussion about "The Search for Jesus."

Jennings also discussed, reluctantly but ultimately revealingly, his own faith.

Beliefnet: There may be some who would say the whole idea of searching for evidence [is misguided]. Religion is not about documentation--it&rsquos about faith.

Jennings: I&rsquom beginning to appreciate the notion that what I guess I correctly or incorrectly refer to as &ldquoliteralists&rdquo will not accept the premise that you can go looking for evidence of the man. I always knew that we might offend some people who think it's not a legitimate exercise in the first place. I don&rsquot know how to answer that except that as a journalist, one tends to think there&rsquos nothing off limits. I similarly hoped--maybe this is inadvertently intended as advertisement--but I do hope that for literalists, they may find that this broadcast makes Jesus the man accessible to a wider audience.

Beliefnet: What effect did it have on you?

Jennings: Well, first of all I want to keep my own faith out of this because it's not relevant to the broadcast. I think it&rsquos fairly widely known by anybody who pays attention that I&rsquom raised an Anglican, I&rsquom a practicing Christian, and that&rsquos about as far as I want to go with it because I would not want people to think that somehow I brought my own notion of faith or spirituality to bear on it. And I think and hope the broadcast will be seen by most people as trying conscientiously to keep faith and archaeology separate. It&rsquos inescapably fascinating to read the Gospels more seriously than I had before and think of them as documentation for a journalist rather than articles of the faith.

Beliefnet: How should someone of faith process this show?

Jennings: I think it depends to some extent how you parse faith. Because it struck me, with all of our characters, they all regard themselves as believers, and none of them regarded themselves as seekers to use conventional language, or contemporary. Therefore, we accepted their bona fides as being believers, and yet in several instances when discussing the resurrection, for example, or the authenticity of Mary&rsquos virginity, I think in some cases we are able to see that metaphorically.

So I think it depends--if you believe literally everything written in the New Testament, and much of [what] is written in the Old Testament is to be taken literally, without any examination, then I think there will be parts of the broadcast that should be quite objectionable and may be difficult to process--maybe not worth processing, probably more to the point, except maybe to get your dander up, which again was not our intention. But I am fascinated by how someone like Dominic Crossan and Tom Wright and Jerry Murphy-O&rsquoConnor, three of our very significant players, three extremely worthy scholars and churchmen, can process the resurrection in different ways.

Beliefnet: Was there anything that surprised you through the course of this, things you learned?

Jennings: Well, it all surprised me. I mean, yes, little things surprise me. I was quite fascinated by the scholarship that seems to find that the virgin birth may have its roots in Roman mythology--and these are very small examples--or that the water-into-wine miracle may have--notice how I hedge and qualify everything--a genesis in Greek mythology.

Father O&rsquoConnor and I were sitting outside the Valley of Kidron, and we&rsquore talking about Jesus arriving for Sabbath--Passover--and I said, "How many people do you think came with him?" He said, &ldquoMaybe a dozen,&rdquo and I said, &ldquoA dozen?&rdquo--another reminder that what became so vast in the subsequent centuries probably was in the first century very small, very risky.

Beliefnet: What can you tell me about how you practice your own faith?

Jennings: That&rsquos a difficult question because. I don&rsquot want to be identified as someone who, at any given moment in their life, gets down on his knees and seeks whatever. But I certainly grew up in the Christian tradition in which I was taught, fairly young, that there was a set of rules, a set of recommendations, a set of standards by which a Christian could and should try to live.

[While working as a journalist overseas] I came to have an appreciation that in all parts of the world, people like me of other faiths struggle to be conscious of that which they have been taught. In time, I became much more conscious of a religion as a political or more widely embracing notion.

I think the fairest thing to say about myself is that I am sensitive to the value of faith and religion and spirituality in people&rsquos lives because I&rsquom a journalist. I try to tell young producers here that when they go to interview the survivors of a plane crash, and they ask the woman, &ldquoHow did you get through this?&rdquo and the woman answers, &ldquoGod got me through it,&rdquo they are never to then say, &ldquoI understand that madam, but what really got you through it?&rdquo That&rsquos the one thing I would say about myself. I&rsquove come to appreciate the value of that. I do not question people&rsquos literalism, even though I don&rsquot always share it. And as a reporter, I&rsquove come to realize that this is a terrific story, a terrific, wonderful story.

Beliefnet: A couple of years ago, in a speech you said that there was a &ldquonew spark to my own faith.&rdquo What did you mean by that?

Jennings: I think a wider awareness led me to seek. I don&rsquot like the word--it&rsquos become a popular word, &ldquoAre you a believer or are you a seeker?&rdquo But I do think that I have gone through a subsequent period of seeking to understand what or how strong or what are the connections I have to God. So I&rsquove spent some time with other men who have tried to understand that about their own lives. I&rsquove spent a little more time in Bible study, though my goodness not enough, and I&rsquove sought to go out and find the value of this in other peoples lives. I suppose, subconsciously I&rsquom finding it so invigorating, enthralling, that maybe--I haven&rsquot taken enough time to stop and examine it yet--in some time it will take me some other places.

Beliefnet: I know very much what you mean. It is not dissimilar to my own situation --but it&rsquos not always easy to articulate this.

Jennings: And I haven&rsquot been asked this before, and you can see I&rsquom having difficulty.

Beliefnet: [Beliefnet] is constantly raising questions for me personally--sometimes consciously, sometimes subconsciously--about what I do believe. After a while, when you listen to people talk about, for example, their personal relationship with God, you eventually say, &ldquoWhat is my relationship to God?&rdquo

Jennings: You&rsquove made me very self-conscious. I&rsquom not ready to answer that because I know that when I go off to try to report on religion, faith, spirituality, it is just so easy to put a label on something, and people put labels on other people. Our religion editor here [Peggy Wehmeyer], who I was instrumental in hiring, is a conservative Christian who lives in Dallas, Texas. So, first of all she sounds different than the chattering classes here in New York, and she takes her faith very seriously. That means there&rsquos a label put on her in this and other newsrooms immediately--it&rsquos instinctively what journalists do. I think journalists in the main are quite good at fighting past labels and taking labels off people once they began to peel the onion, but I saw it at the beginning, people here just listened to Peggy at the beginning, and because she sounded the way she did she got identified as being part of that bit of fabric in the country not this bit of fabric.

So given the fact that I have some influence in this regard, I don&rsquot want anybody to put a label on me. It would be easy to say in this broadcast, &ldquoI am a believer, and therefore you should not second-guess me on this program.&rdquo I don&rsquot want to do that at all. First of all, it wouldn&rsquot be true. It would be the wrong thing to do. I&rsquom very self-conscious about that.

Having been raised an Anglican--again I would appall Anglicans [and Episcopalians] by saying this--but I was raised with the notion that it was OK to ask questions, and it was OK to say, &ldquoI&rsquom not sure. I believe, but I&rsquom not quite so certain about the resurrection.&rdquo And I was very impressed by Tom Wright&rsquos notion that something must have happened--that something must have happened--by which in less than 300 years Christianity was the official religion of the Roman Empire. Something must have happened.

As a journalist, I&rsquove covered several occasions, you know--The Blood on the Wall: The Shadow of the Virgin Mary--and I&rsquove seen people respond in a profound way--I mean I can&rsquot even say "profound" as strongly as I feel it. And do I believe what I see on the side of the wall? Do I, as a journalist, [remain] slightly suspicious that it may be the pipe leaking up there behind the cheaply-constructed edifice? Yes, to be perfectly honest, I am. But I&rsquom not prepared to easily say to the woman, "Madam, you&rsquore crazy."

Beliefnet: Have you ever experienced anything that you believed was miraculous?

Jennings: I would prefer not to answer that.

Beliefnet: Do you pray?

Jennings: Yes. I have prayed. But I am quick to qualify that I was brought up--I was taught to pray as a child. I went to a school where we went to a chapel everyday and three times on Sunday, and I was a sacristan and I was crucifer, I carried the cross, and all that stuff. But your question should be, &ldquoWhen you pray, do you know what you are doing?&rdquo And that question I won&rsquot answer.

I don&rsquot know what people will find controversial in the broadcast, but I am very conscious of the fact that in looking at Jesus the man--what we think we saw--and I&rsquom careful not to use the word "found"--what we think we saw was a young man who was seeking a solution for people then. And I have to be very faith conscious in order to continue to be aware that many people believe that what he was doing then as a young man had a direct relationship to their sins two millennia later. And this is, in some respects, the danger of doing these stories, because inadvertently you may be seen to be undermining people&rsquos faith--the last thing I would ever want to do. By simply looking at the man, and by looking at it in the context of the first century, are you undermining the very notion that he is the Son of God and he did die for our sins? That&rsquos a tough one.

Beliefnet: You talked about your experience as a journalist overseas and seeing how the power of religion has sustained a lot of people. You also witnessed and reported on many instances in which faith was used to justify atrocities. How do you come away from those situations without being cynical about religion?

Jennings: I think you can be cynical about religion on occasion, and certainly skeptical about the degree to which some people use religion to manipulate other people. [But] I went back to Iran with the Ayatollah Khomeini--sat beside him as he went home and spent a lot of time within arms length in the early days of the revolution, which of course began even before he came. And I always thought it was an easy thing to think he was a manipulator and that he used power that he could see in front of him every day in order to get rid of the Shah, who hadn&rsquot made the deal with the mullahs. It&rsquos a very tempting way to see it. In time, I think I came to see Islam, or at least one part of Islam, as an important defense mechanism against the Americanization of the world or the commercialization of the world. In other words, we got profoundly angry by the phrase &ldquothe great Satan.&rdquo I didn&rsquot meet many Iranians even at the most intense times who believed that we were Satan in America but that we represented, contextually, Satanic ideas, and they were afraid. And I could see them huddling behind these religious barricades in order to defend their own cultures. I feel very strongly about that in terms of Islam.

Beliefnet: I&rsquom sure you have written and talked about why you became a journalist and why you pursued this career. I want to ask that classic question in a slightly different way: Do you feel like you were put on earth for a certain purpose?

Jennings: Yes--but not for the one you think. I actually think--the one thing that I have done really well in my life--is be a father. And I think in some respects that&rsquos as much by luck as good judgment, but, like most people, you do some things naturally and you do other things not so naturally. The only thing I really think I did without thinking was to be a father. Now, I&rsquom sure that&rsquos not true and that [it&rsquos actually] some romantic notion of why I was put here. But to answer your question, do I think I was put here on earth to be a journalist and to seek truth? No, I don&rsquot.

Beliefnet: For the last couple of months, I have been on the other end of the tape recorder and been asked about how my personal life story affected the creation of the web site.

Jennings: I myself have been very careful--by the way--not to ask you that question.

Beliefnet: Well, I sort of feel like, if I&rsquom asking you, you can ask me.

Jennings: But I don&rsquot want to ask you. I mean, I do, I&rsquom dying to ask you. When Beliefnet came along, I thought it was, first of all, very exciting because for me [it was] a great resource tool--a few too many spiritual chat rooms for me. But, having said that, I want to think about it as a journalistic exception. I don&rsquot want to think about it as a messianic adventure, because I will think differently of you, because the labels are irresistible. Then I would have to spend time peeling away the labels. I like you just as you are, which is a journalist. I can deal with that.

The one thing I would want to have you understand absolutely clearly about me is that I think in one respect, I think I am very mainstream, so therefore I&rsquom committed to good works in my life. But don&rsquot be confused at all that somehow my interest in religion, faith, and spirituality is somehow driven by any sense of faith or spirituality of my own. It is a fabulous story. It intersects with people&rsquos lives in ways that other people in newsrooms are not as lucky as I am to understand. I really think that&rsquos the most important thing to know about me. This is a good and irresistible story--and it is, my God, what else are we looking for in life? It is relevant. So I in some respects should have said in the beginning, I don&rsquot want to talk about my faith in spirituality at all, or my faith in my religion at all, and I may have done so inadvertently in an ingratiating way, and I feel badly about that.

Peter Jennings Reporting (ABC News Series) — 1990-1998

The American Game 07/30/1998 A look at Little League baseball and American life. Peter Jennings follows a Hagerstown, Maryland, Little League team as they pursue a World Series championship. It is an emotional summer journey about the pursuit of dreams and the loss of innocence. “In short,” says Jennings, “the program is about the difference between what we say we want for our children and how we really act.”

Dangerous World: The Kennedy Years 12/04/1997 A two-hour special, “Dangerous World” is a co-production with Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Seymour Hersh. It explores the complicated life and the secrets of President John F. Kennedy and what it was like at the center of power during some of the darkest days of the Cold War.

Unfinished Business: The CIA and Saddam Hussein 06/26/1997 This primetime special investigates the Central Intelligence Agency’s efforts to eliminate the Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein.

Who is Tim McVeigh? 04/10/1997 Nearly two years after the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building, Tim McVeigh goes on trial, accused of the most deadly act of terrorism in the history of the United States. The program contains additional material updating a previous broadcast: “Peter Jennings Reporting: Rage and Betrayal — The Lives of Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols.”

Pot of Gold 03/13/1997 Ounce for ounce, marijuana is worth as much or more than gold. So, no wonder so many Americans are growing marijuana for profit. By many estimates it is the country’s number one crash crop. Peter Jennings examines America’s multi-billion dollar underground marijuana economy.

Jerusalem Stories 12/19/1996 Every ancient king and conqueror wanted Jerusalem. Nearly every army in the ancient world, and some in the modern world, has made its presence known here. Peter Jennings, who has been reporting on Jerusalem for almost 30 years, returns to explore the city sacred to Muslims, Christians and Jews. “We’ll take viewers places tourists don’t go,” Jennings says, “It’s a place where past and present are always bumping into each other, and for people from all over the world, there is something about Jerusalem that’s irresistible.”

Never Say Die: How the Cigarette Companies Keep on Winning 06/27/1996 Despite the assaults on the tobacco industry from regulators and politicians, Peter Jennings reveals how through clever marketing, aggressive lawyering and big-money lobbying the tobacco industry not only survives, but even thrives.

Rage and Betrayal 04/11/1996 An intimate portrait of the relationships and events which shaped the lives of Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols, the two men accused of the single worst act of terrorism in U.S. history. Bill McVeigh traces his son’s devolution from “comic book collector” to drifter, gun dealer and “patriot.” The story of Terry Nichols is recounted through the observations of his father, his brother, his son, and his first wife.

Hiroshima: Why We Dropped the Bomb 07/27/1995 Using contemporaneous records left by participants, such as diary entries, memoranda, minutes of meetings, intelligence reports, decoded diplomatic cables, as well as interviews with historians, Peter Jennings addresses the most controversial questions surrounding the decision to drop two atomic bombs on Japan at the end of World War II. Were there alternatives? Did we need to be the first and only nation to use the atomic bomb? Did the bomb shorten the war?

The Peacekeepers: How the U.N. Failed in Bosnia 04/24/1995 Three years ago in Bosnia, the United Nations launched the largest and most expensive peacekeeping operation in its 50-year history. Despite thousands of troops and billions of dollars, the UN has done little to stop the brutal aggression and slaughter of innocent civilians. In this third special on the war in the former Yugoslavia, Peter Jennings examines why.

In the Name of God 03/16/1995 While mainline Protestant denominations have been declining since the 1950s, America’s hunger for spiritual meaning seems to be intensifying. Some of the nation’s evangelical churches are answering those needs through controversial forms of worship that are having a wide-ranging impact throughout mainline Christian denominations. “This is not a program about the religious right or errant televangelists,” says Peter Jennings. “It is a program about the changing face of church in America.”

House on Fire: America’s Haitian Crisis 07/27/1994 It has neither aggressive designs on its neighbors nor a burgeoning nuclear weapons program. Instead, Haiti is a small, impoverished nation of no strategic value. And yet, the United States is increasingly viewing an invasion as a feasible way of deposing the military government, stemming the flow of refugees and restoring President Rev. Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power.

While America Watched: The Bosnian Tragedy 03/17/1994 For genocide to happen, you don’t need Nazis or ovens. You need only killers and victims. And those who stand by and let it happen. Could the Bush and Clinton administrations have saved any of the hundreds of thousands who have died in the former Yugoslavia? Peter Jennings returns to the Balkans for this second prime-time special, and looks at how U.S. leaders made the decision to stand aside for so long while scenes of mass murder and genocide revisited Europe.

The Land of the Demons 03/13/1993 Peter Jennings tells some of the personal stories of survival in the former Yugoslavia, as he reports on the global implications of the death and destruction. “I wanted to go to Sarajevo,” says Jennings, “because a great many people were being slaughtered in a manner which was altogether too reminiscent of World War II — a war from which we thought we were going to learn more — and after which the world said, ‘Never again’.”

The Cocaine War: Lost in Bolivia 12/28/1992 The U.S. government is spending millions of dollars each year on interdiction efforts, but will adding more guns, more helicopters, and more border patrols ever make a difference? Peter Jennings examines America’s war on drugs, focusing on Bolivia, a country that produces a third of the world’s cocaine and where one in every five people owes his economic survival to traffickers.

The Missiles of October: What the World Didn’t Know 10/27/1992 Peter Jennings goes behind the scene of the Cuban Missile Crisis. “After 30 years we finally understand how close we were to nuclear disaster,” he says. “The leaders of all three countries involved were operating with little or no idea of what the other was planning, which put the world closer to the brink than anyone either knew or was willing to admit.”

Who is Ross Perot? 06/29/1992 While undeclared Presidential candidate Ross Perot has captured the nation’s attention and risen to the top of the national polls, what do Americans really know about him? This film looks beyond the political phenomenon of Ross Perot to focus on Ross Perot the man — how he got where he is today and what has kept him there.

Men, Sex and Rape 05/05/1992 This one-hour special examines rape, focusing on the male point of view. Through interviews with rapists and their victims, Peter Jennings discusses how men perceive women, why men rape, the boundary between rape and consensual sex — and whether men actually understand it.

From the Heart of Harlem 07/25/1991 An investigation into the financial troubles of the Dance Theater of Harlem, this program traces the dance company from it’s beginnings in a Harlem basement, to success on the world dance stage, to the brink of bankruptcy.

A Line in the Sand: War or Peace? 01/14/1991 – ABC An analysis of the Middle Eastern political environment, which led to the August 1990 Iraqi attack on oil-rich Kuwait. Peter Jennings looks at Saddam Hussein’s relationship with Western countries and America’s decision to become involved in the highly volatile situation.

The New Civil War 11/01/1990 In this election season, Peter Jennings reports from the front lines of the abortion war – “the most explosive social and political issue in America” – and illustrates just how polarized and politicized the debate is.

A Line in the Sand 09/11/1990 Documenting the beginning of the Gulf War, this program details what American military forces encountered in battle and what many people view as the underlying cause of the six-week-long war: oil.

From the Killing Fields: Beyond Vietnam 04/26/1990 Peter Jennings anchors an in-depth investigative report from inside the war-torn country of Cambodia, and hosts a discussion with prominent individuals, including General William Westmoreland, about Vietnam and Cambodia 15 years after the “end” of the war. Is the U.S. assisting the Khmer Rouge directly or indirectly? Is America still fighting the Vietnam War–in Cambodia?

Guns 01/24/1990 Peter Jennings goes to Stockton, California, where Patrick Purdy killed five children and wounded 30 with an AK-47 assault rifle, to report on national debate on gun control.

Peter Jennings - History

On April 8, 2003, Dan Bricklin, Bob Frankston, and Mitch Kapor gathered with Charles Simonyi to speak about the Origins and Impact of VisiCalc. This got me thinking about those early days and my own first encounters with the program.

By the summer of 1978, Microchess was available on all of the popular personal computers of the day, the S-100 bus machines, the TRS-80 and the Commodore PET. Micro-Ware had a booth at PC-78 in Atlantic City and the cassettes were flying off the table. Carl Helmers, editor of Byte Magazine, came by and introduced me to someone I should meet because &ldquowe have a lot in common&rdquo. This turned out to be Dan Fylstra, at the time, an MBA student at Harvard, a writer for Byte, and a 6800 programmer.

Dan and I had lunch together and he told me about Personal Software, his small company distributing programs for personal computers. He quickly asked if he could add Microchess to the product line. So began my relationship with Personal Software.

Dan and I spent long hours on the phone between Boston and Toronto discussing the future of personal computers, software, and software publishing. Before long we had decided to merge our companies. There would be a combining of assets for shares, and I would receive a royalty for my Microchess.

It was not long after this that Dan told me about Dan Bricklin and his idea for an electronic calculating ledger. It was clearly a revolutionary idea and we knew it would be an important element of our product line. We didn't realize how important until much later. Not long after, I flew down to Boston and met Bob Frankston and Dan Bricklin. We went out to a Chinese restaurant and discussed, among other things, possible names for the new product. Visible Calculator was one of the leading options, as was Electronic Ledger, but we finished dinner without having made a decision. We did agree that VisiCalc sounded too much like a vitamin.

In Boston, Dan Fylstra was negotiating a contract with Bricklin and Frankston. After each session, he would call me and we would go over the terms that had been agreed and those that were still on the table. The most contentious issue was the royalty percentage. At that time, there were no standards for what royalty should be paid for software. Dan and I had negotiated the Microchess royalty based on the profit I was making on units shipped by Micro-Ware at the lowest wholesale price, a little over 30%. This was undoubtedly a factor in deciding what royalty Bob and Dan should receive for VisiCalc. The other issue was an advance on royalties to cover some of the development costs. Bob wanted to use a cross-compiler on a timeshare system to do the development using a macro language he had created for the 6502. It was estimated that this would cost $4-5,000 per month. We agreed to cover these costs. But if I received my royalties for Microchess, there would not be sufficient cash flow available. I agreed to postpone the royalties owed to me until the company was in a position to pay them. Thus, in a very real way, Microchess sales helped finance the development of VisiCalc.

Delaware County NY Genealogy and History Site

This is an early will, 1808, and mentions several daughter's names (daughters spelled "Dafters" in the will). People who are looking for female ancestors may pick up some possibilities here. I have not changed spelling, punctuation or capitalization in my transcription. --Pam Frederic, December 5, 2001

JENNINGS, Peter - Stamford B-20 Delaware County, NY

A Copy of the Will of Peter Jennings Deceased -

In the name of God Amen I Peter Jennings of Stamford, NY Delaware County Being weak in Body but of sound memory Blessed be God on this twenty Ninth Day of March one thousand eight hundred and eight make and Publish this my last Will and Testament in Manner following that is to say First I Give to my Son Peter one third Part of my landed Property and to have and to hold free of all Debts and Demands and the other two thirds of my landed property I give to Eben with buildings standing thereon with this reserve that my Dafter Sally shall have a right to the Buildings as long as she shall Remain Single so as to make her home in the same and Likewise I Give in this my Last will and testament My Dafter Sally one Bed and furniture Clear and above the Rest of my Dafter's. I give to my Wife one third part of all my Land and all other Property as Long as She Shall live also I give and bequeath to my Dafter Ellen fourteen pounds ten schillings which term is part in furniture before this time and I give to my Dafter Polley Likewise fourteen Pounds ten Schillings which is payed in part Eight pounds fourteen Shellings is payed and five Pounds Sixteen Shillings to be Rmt after my Decease. I give to my Dafter Betsy fourteen pounds ten Shellings which the pas Rmt Six Pounds of Sum time Past in furniture and is to receive at my Decease Eight pounds ten Shillings and I give to my Dafter Deborah at my Decease fourteen Pounds ten Shillings in Part furniture and I Give to my Dafter Sally fourteen Pounds ten Schillings to be haved at my Decease out of Property and to have all my household property and farming tools and stock to Equally Divided among my Children - In Witness whereas The Said Peter Jennings have to this my last will and testament Set my hand and seal this 29th Day of March 1808---

Watch the video: ABC News - Peter Jennings death 2005 (June 2022).


  1. Germain

    Interesting option

  2. Faerwald

    Did you come up with such an incomparable answer yourself?

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