Objectivity is an illusory aim for any chronicler—but fairness, which is really the edifying goal we aspire to, isn't.

 

 

 

…the best, albeit hardest, place to search for truths, besides your faith, is among the murky but vital shades of gray.

 


Magazine
Fall/Winter 1999

Tim Padgett ’84
Miami Bureau Chief,
Time Magazine


What is the most significant event that has occurred in your profession or field of study during the 20th century? What lesson do you take away from that event?

The rise of television journalism, which has created enormous challenges for print journalists as we try to engage a CNN world with the written word. An editor once reminded me that passenger railroads died because they thought they were in the business of trains instead of transportation. The same, he said, holds for print journalists: we're not just in the business of magazines and newspapers—we're in the business of communication.

Personally, what is the most meaningful life lesson you have taken from your vocation or avocation?

That there are far fewer absolute truths in life than most people assume—and that the best, albeit hardest, place to search for truths, besides your faith, is among the murky but vital shades of gray. The other lesson: Chicago's Billy Goat is the world's best reporter's bar.

 

What person(s) or mentor(s) have had the most significant impact on your life? Can you describe how that person affected your life?

My parents, James and Barbara Padgett were my most important mentors. My brother, sister and I grew up in a time and place where it wasn't uncommon to hear the word "nigger" in the barbershop on Saturday mornings—and yet we were raised to reject prejudice of any kind and make tolerance our touchstone. My parents, not coincidentally, are both liberal arts graduates—my mother from DePauw, my father from Wabash.

In your experience, what is the greatest misconception the public has about your vocation (or field of study) or the people in that vocation?

That journalists are supposed to look at the world through an impossibly objective lens. Objectivity is an illusory aim for any chronicler—but fairness, which is really the edifying goal we aspire to, isn't.

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