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February 11, 2021 52 min

Tom Johnson has had an interesting career.  Starting out at a local newspaper in Macon, Georgia to working for President Lyndon B. Johnson to heading up CNN in its early years. (Full bio below)

In this interview - writer Charu Kumarhia talks to Johnson about his career, his thoughts on politics and journalism today - and why everyone should have a dog.  Tom Johnson is also candid about his struggles with depression.

Follow @thestorywithcharu on IG for photos from Johnson’s life.

He also shared these tips:
The most important "rules" I was taught in my news career
1. GET IT RIGHT! (Aka BE ACCURATE).  My first editor at THE MACON TELEGRAPH (Sam Glassman, sports editor)
2. TELL THE TRUTH (Helen Thomas, UPI, on my first day as a White House press officer)
3. DEMAND EXCELLENCE (in yourself and those who work with you). Otis Chandler, publisher of L.A. TIMES
4. BE FAIR!  (Ted Turner)
5. NEVER COMPROMISE ON YOUR PRINCIPLES! Integrity is critically needed in all professions! (Bill Moyers)
6. HAVING TWO OR MORE SOURCES DOES NOT ASSURE THAT YOU HAVE THE TRUTH (Cardinal Bernadin story; TAILWIND story; Richard Jewell/Olympic park bomber story---all false)
7. ADMIT MISTAKES. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY! PUBLISH THE CORRECTION WITH SAME VISIBILITY AS INITIAL MISTAKE---NOT IN A CORRECTIONS BOX ON BOTTOM OF PAGE 3.
8.  NEVER USE YOUR POWER AS A JOURNALIST IRRESPONSIBLY. The day you protect a family member or a friend from truthful reporting is the day you should resign. Be a watchdog, not an attack dog or a lap dog?


Johnson asked us to share his email - he doesn’t want anyone struggling with mental illness to not get the help they need.  It’s:  tom.johnson.atl@gmail.com

Johnson retired in 2001 at age 60, after having served as chairman and CEO of CNN,  publisher of Los Angeles Times, editor and publisher of The Dallas Times Herald, assistant to President Lyndon B. Johnson, a White House Fellow and a reporter on The Macon (Ga.) Telegraph. He and Edwina divide their time between Georgia and California where their son Wyatt, their daughter Mrs. William (Christa) Shaffer, their son-in-law Bill Shaffer, and their two granddaughters Brynn Shaffer (19) and Julene Shaffer (18) live.  

www.charukumarhia.com

www.charukumarhia.com

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