Peter Jennings, a legendary figure in the world of journalism, left an indelible mark on the field of broadcast news. As the face of ABC News for decades, Jennings was known for his authoritative voice, insightful reporting, and unwavering dedication to delivering news to the American public.
However, in 2005, the world mourned the loss of this news icon. In this article, we'll explore the circumstances surrounding Peter Jennings' death and reflect on his enduring legacy.
Who is Peter Jennings?
‘Peter Charles Archibald Ewart Jennings CM born on July 29, 1938 was a Canadian-American television journalist best known as the exclusive anchor of ABC World News Tonight.
Despite dropping out of high school early, Jennings transformed himself into one of the most prominent names in American television journalism.
Peter Jennings' career in journalism spanned over four decades, during which he became one of the most respected and recognizable news anchors in the United States. He began his career at a young age, anchoring a Canadian radio show.
His early work at CJOH-TV in Ottawa included anchoring local newscasts and hosting the Saturday Date adolescent dance show.
In 1965, at just 26 years old, Jennings became the anchor of “ABC Evening News,” making him the youngest anchor of a major U.S. network news program at the time.
Jennings' charisma, intelligence, and dedication to delivering news with integrity earned him accolades and the trust of millions of viewers.
His reporting covered significant historical events, from the Vietnam War to the fall of the Berlin Wall, and he became a steady presence in American households during times of crisis and triumph.
Jennings was one of the “Big Three” news anchormen who dominated American evening network news from the early 1980s until the mid-2000s, with Tom Brokaw of NBC Nightly News and Dan Rather of CBS Evening News.
How Did Peter Jennings Die?
On August 7, 2005, at the age of 67, Jennings died of lung cancer in his New York residence. His sister, two children, and fourth wife were all around him.
In April 2005, Peter Jennings delivered the news to his viewers that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer.
This revelation came as a shock to many, as Jennings had been a lifelong smoker and was candid about his struggles with the habit. Despite the diagnosis, he continued to work and report on his own illness, using his platform to raise awareness about the dangers of smoking.
Charles Gibson broke into local news in the eastern United States and normal programming on ABC's western affiliates just after 11:30 p.m. EDT that evening to announce Jennings' death.
ABC colleagues, including Barbara Walters, Diane Sawyer, and Ted Koppel, expressed their condolences for Jennings' death.
On the morning news shows the next day, Brokaw and Rather warmly remembered their former opponent. “Peter, of the three of us, was our prince,” Brokaw remarked on Today. “He appeared to be timeless.”
He had such a sense of elegance and élan.” The news of Jennings' death kicked off Canada's morning news shows, with remembrances from their “big three” anchors, Peter Mansbridge at the CBC, Lloyd Robertson at CTV, and Kevin Newman (himself a former colleague of Jennings at ABC) at Global.
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President George W. Bush of the United States and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin both issued words of condolence to the press.
His death came on the heels of Brokaw's and Rather's retirements in 2004, and marked the end of an era in American television journalism.'