Meeting Mike Wallace

I've been so busy trying to update entries from our Istanbul trip (retroactively) that it occurs to me that I'm also failing to keep up with recording the present. Which means that I'm failing across the time-space continuum. What's a girl to do? Cry, for one thing. Especially when she realizes the fellowship ends six weeks from TODAY.



Is that even possible?

And as if to hit home the notion that we are stuck in a once-in-a-lifetime-experience-that-will-never-come-again, our first seminar back after spring break was a meeting with none other than Mike Wallace. Yes, that Mike Wallace. Legendary news veteran. University of Michigan Graduate. Kind and generous purchaser of the house in which the Knight-Wallace program lives.

I'm not often star struck - mostly because I'm not often anywhere near any actual stars. But I'll admit to feeling very much In The Presence of a Legend when the enigmatic Wallace entered the Wallace House on Tuesday. Here's a man who has been working as a journalist since the 1940s, for goodness sake. A man who has interviewed every single president since JFK, save one. (Can you guess who? I'll give you a hint: he's currently in office.) A man whose friends included Malcolm (X) and Martin (Luther King.) A man who helped shape TV news and investigative journalism as we know it. So, yeah. You could say I felt a little jittery as he entered the foyer. But, in the same token, I also felt like I was in the presence of a nice, old man - and I'm hoping that, with his 88th birthday approaching, Mr. Wallace won't consider my use of "old" prejorative, rather than the badge of honor I intend it to be.

As we do with every speaker, we went around the room introducing ourselves. But this time, we all also expressed our personal gratitude to Mr. Wallace for his role in supporting this fellowship and, by extension, changing all of our lives. To say I was moved many times is an understatement. No matter what this past six months or so has meant to each of us, there's no arguing that it has had a huge impact - and we are all too aware of how precious our remaining time is.

I wish I could tell you everything Mr. Wallace shared with us, but I can't. Partly because it's off the record, of course. And partly because I have a memory like a sieve. What I can tell you is the Mr. Wallace was funny and friendly and generous with his knowledge. And that he seemed genuinely touched by our appreciation. Also (and I don't think mind me sharing this) that he is as confused and frustrated as the rest of us about the future of journalism as we know it.

(Note...I just wrote several paragraphs on meeting with independent broadcast journalist Jay Allison today - and then lost it all when I forgot to save. There's a chance I'll remember my genius observations but probably not until I stop banging my head against the wall.