Ted Koppel’s letter to Nightline’s email list this afternoon:
March 31, 2005
Over the past 25 years, my “Nightline” colleagues and I have produced somewhere between 6,000-7,000 broadcasts. Many of them have been forgettable (if you’re in a charitable frame of mind), some have been good, and a few have been very good indeed. I will always remember, with enormous pride, the programs we’ve done on prisons, as part of our “Crime and Punishment” series; our focus on race relations — “America in Black and White”; and our early attention to the devastating impact of AIDS in America and in Africa. I like to believe that our series on apartheid in South Africa made a difference and that we helped in some small way jump-start a dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians through our Town Meetings in Jerusalem. It is still troubling that so little attention is being paid to the ongoing wars in Congo, where more than 3 million people have now died as a direct or indirect consequence of the fighting. But for one brief week we were able to shine a light on that troubled nation. It’s the sort of subject a responsible news program should cover. Did we stir up a little controversy with “The Fallen,” our tribute to U.S. military deaths in Iraq? Yes, but that, too, is an appropriate function of a serious news program.
It is my hope, as my friend and executive producer, Tom Bettag, and I plan to relinquish the reins of “Nightline” late next fall, that this broadcast will flourish for many years to come. We will be leaving it in the hands of a hugely talented staff. My on-air colleagues, Chris Bury, John Donvan, Michel Martin and Dave Marash are among the finest television journalists I have ever known.
This, though, is turning into a premature farewell. Tom and I have eight months left and that works out to about 160 programs left to do. I look forward to participating in most of those and then to joining all of you as a loyal viewer of “Nightline.”
Thanks for watching.