Connecticut College Magazine · Fall 2008

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First Person: Remembering Tim Russert

First Person: Remembering Tim Russert
Caroline Gransee ´09 on the set of Meet the Press with Tim Russert.

Caroline Gransee ´09 interned last semester at NBC´s "Meet the Press," where she had the opportunity to work with Tim Russert, who hosted the show for 17 years until he died June 13, 2008. Gransee wrote the following piece shortly after Russert´s death.

By Caroline Gransee ´09


After the taping wrapped up he walked off the set towards my co-intern and me. As the legendary moderator of "Meet the Press," Tim Russert, approached us he asked what our thoughts were on that day´s show. When our conversation ended, he reached his hand out to me. After reading Tim´s first book, Big Russ and Me, I knew that he believed a handshake was a great signifier of an individual´s merit; I nervously grasped his hand and prayed that I would pass the test.

Reaching out to us was just one example of Tim´s character, which had a great effect on NBC´s culture. I believe Tim was at least partially responsible for creating the station´s friendly environment. The NBC employees always smile in the halls and ask how you are — a rarity in this cut-throat, high-pressure industry.

In the wake of Tim´s passing, I reflected on my internship at MTP, Russert´s legacy, and what I learned.

Lesson 1: Prepare for the task at hand. During the week, I observed and helped research for the upcoming show. By Sunday, everything was ready to come together when the show aired — live — at 9 a.m. But before the show began, the highlight of my Sundays was to "sneak" into Studio A to watch rehearsal, where Tim would diligently practice each interview question as though the guest were sitting next to him.

Lesson 2: Check your ego at the door. Tim and the whole MTP staff were always extremely humble, unusual in a city of egos. Tim´s preparation and humility truly set him apart from the other Sunday morning hosts.

Lesson 3: Take advantage of opportunities. Everyone at NBC has gotten where they are because they used their resources. Through CELS (the College´s career program) and the study-away office, I found the Washington Semester Program and this internship. Once I got to D.C., I made the best of my experience.

Lesson 4: Check your facts. My professors, including Dorothy James, and my mentors at NBC, such as Michelle Jaconi (a MTP producer), have taught me to question what I know, to double-check facts, and how to communicate these facts, all of which are critical skills for an aspiring journalist.

I´ll never know whether I passed Tim´s handshake "test," but I do know that he and MTP had such a profound impact on me that I took a leap of faith. I decided to stay at the bureau for the summer — and to stay in Washington in the fall — to see this election season through, all in the hopes of pursuing a journalism career. Through Connecticut College´s help, I have been able to pursue my dream, and with a little luck and hard work, I hope to return to the bureau after graduation and help to carry on Tim´s legacy of quality and fair reporting.


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