I haven’t seen Peter Jennings’ special on UFOs yet (it’s tivoed). Who knows? Maybe it’s just a egocentric exercise in pandering and hype, but having seen Jennings on The Daily Show last night, I don’t think so. And — even though Jennings is on television — I don’t think he’s the kind of journalist to tackle a subject less than professionally.
But what I really don’t understand is why would anybody think this isn’t legitimate journalism?
UFOs are a part of our culture, and one that — as Jennings pointed out to Jon Stewart — has not been given the kind of serious journalistic treatment the subject deserves. There are a multitude of interesting angles here that have nothing to do with whether you believe UFOs are spaceships, hoaxes or delusions.
The truth is out there, and Jennings is doing the journalistically honest thing (or so he says) in trying to shed some light on a fascinating topic.
Journalism isn’t all about social security reform, budget deficits and Iraq. When it’s at its best, it’s also about what’s going on in society. And society is into UFOs in a big way. Just do a Google search. There’s nothing pandering about covering what interests people. That too can be service to civic discourse.