The death of political journalist Tim Russert this weekend has sparked a flood of well deserved tributes. But I think some of them are missing the point (the fact Russert was a great father is positive, but not really relevant to his huge contribution to journalism.) As noted in this post by Jeff Beringer in the GolinHarris blog, Russert was respected and will serve as a role model for future generations because he was a consummate professional and absolutely, undeniably authentic. His legendary preparation, passion for his craft, interviewing skills and dedication to fair, relevant journalism was rare in network television. But what stands out for me is that Russert didn’t have an obvious agenda or bias. Unlike other pundits who get kudos for being honest and direct – Lou Dobbs of CNN comes to mind – Russert’s authenticity was not driven by a dogmatic editorial position or bombastic personality. He was a regular guy interested in finding the truth, asking the tough questions and fostering a productive debate. I truly hope his lessons live on with a new generation of reporters. 

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