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Voice of America (Working title)

For a couple of decades Lowell Thomas was as well known as any journalist has ever been in the United States. He dominated radio news and newsreels at a time -- before television -- when most Americans were turning to these new media for news of an increasingly perilous world. Along the way Thomas helped invent the just-the-facts, nonpartisan style adopted by broadcast news in the United States -- he helped invent, in other words, what we now think of as traditional journalism.  

But Thomas had begun making a name for himself long before he became a familiar voice on the air or a familiar face in movie theaters. He was a world traveler, who reported on his journeys to audiences around the world in travelogues that employed photos, film and music. Thomas was among the early entrepreneurial journalists. He may have been our first muiltimedia journalist. One of his journeys took him to Tibet, where he was among the only Westerners to meet the young Dalai Lama -- right before the Chinese Communists invaded. And it was one of his travelogues that introduced Lawrence of Arabia, whom Thomas had actually visited in Arabia, to the world.

Author: Mitchell Stephens, professor of Journalism at New York University and author of, among other books, A History of News, the rise of the image the fall of the word, Beyond News: The Future of Journalism and Broadcast News.

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