We celebrate tonight the men and women whose dedication to the collection and distribution of facts threatens their very existence. When they antagonize those with money, political power and guns, they risk their lives. We, on the other hand, tremble at nothing quite so much as the thought of boring our audiences. The preferred weapons of the rich and powerful here in America are the pollster and the public relations council, but they are no threat to the physical safety of journalists. Our enemies are more insidious than they are. Our enemies are declining advertising revenues, the rising costs of newsprint, lower ratings, diversification, the vertical integration of communications empires, and the breezier, chattier styles [that] are insinuating themselves onto the front pages of our more distinguished newspapers. They are the fading lines between television news and entertainment. It is not death or torture or imprisonment that threatens us as American journalists, it is the trivialization of our industry….
Ted Koppel is Anchor and Managing Editor of ABC News’s “Nightline.” These remarks are from an October 23, 1998 speech to the Committee to Protect Journalists, delivered in New York City.