A Memoir of Fifty Years in Chicago TV News
Narrated by John Sipple
Approximately 8.5 hours
Book published by Southern Illinois University Press
Walter Jacobson’s highly readable book Walter’s Perspective: A Memoir of Fifty Years in Chicago TV News provides a unique glimpse into the rough-and-tumble Chicago news business as seen through the eyes of one of its legendary players. From his first news job working as a legman for Daily News columnist Jack Mabley in the 1950s to his later role as a news anchor and political commentator at CBS-owned WBBM, Jacobson battled along the front lines of an industry undergoing dramatic changes. While it is ultimately Jacobson’s story, a memoir of a long and distinguished (and sometimes highly controversial) career, it is also an insider’s account of the inner workings of Chicago television news, including the ratings games, the process of defining news and choosing stories, the media’s power and its failures, and the meddling by corporate and network executives.
As a reporter, Jacobson was regularly contentious and confrontational. He was fired on a number of occasions and was convicted of libeling tobacco company Brown and Williamson, resulting in a multimillion-dollar federal court judgment against him and CBS. Yet it was this gutsy attitude that put him at the top of the news game, enabling him to get inside information on Chicago government and politics, and helped him become the first local television reporter to be granted a visa to visit Communist China. With an engaging writing style, Jacobson relates these experiences and much more. He recollects his interactions with Chicago mayors Richard J. and Richard M. Daley, Jane Byrne, Harold Washington, and Rahm Emanuel; recounts his coverage of such fascinating news stories as the violent 1968 Democratic National Convention and the execution of convicted mass murderer John Wayne Gacy; and recalls his reporting on and interviews with Louis Farrakhan, governors George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich, and Barack Obama. More than a memoir, Walter’s Perspective is the extraordinary journey of one reporter whose distinctive career followed the changing face of Chicago’s local news.
Walter Jacobson has won more than forty Emmys for his reporting and commentaries on three different television stations, CBS-WBBM, NBC-WMAQ, and Fox-WFLD—more than have been won by all the anchors in the history of Chicago combined.
“Readers will love the sweep of this memoir, one written with a winning voice and perspective. Perhaps this could be expected. Can one think of another newscaster who could endure, even flourish, with the nickname 'Skippy'?”
“Stylishly written, the book is a hard-eyed look at what has happened to what we call news during [Jacobson's] many years in the game, something we viewers rarely, if ever, have time to contemplate in the rush and hustle of the next lead story or the 24-hour news cycle.”
—Printers Row Journal
“Walter Jacobson is as much a Chicago landmark as Wrigley Field (where he stole other teams’ signals as a Cubs batboy) or City Hall (where he tormented two mayors named Daley and all those in between). Walter’s Perspective takes us inside the newsrooms, pressrooms, and courtrooms that shaped his legendary career and defined Chicago broadcast journalism for a generation. Though he defies every conventional notion of a TV anchorman, he’s still one of the very best in town.”
—Robert Feder, media critic, Time Out Chicago
“Jacobson, a legend in Chicago journalism, reveals the origin of his rivalry with columnist Mike Royko, takes readers inside local TV newsrooms, and describes how bad news decisions get made and mistakes haunt journalists forever. He trains his plain-speaking, “in-your-face” style, honed over decades of writing Perspectives, on himself and his industry. Reading his memoir, you can almost see him bobbing and weaving at his desk, taking aim this time not only at corrupt politicians but also at the corruption that has undermined the quality of television news.”
—Phil Kadner, columnist for the SouthtownStar
All titles are published by:
University Press Audiobooks
an imprint of Redwood Audiobooks