Cal Thomas

Inside Media: Cal Thomas

March 21, 2009

Guest: Cal Thomas

By By Lesette R. Heath, special programs coordinator

Cal Thomas is an old-fashioned news guy who thinks there’s something special about holding a newspaper in your hand. But he’s embraced the new media world, too — he blogs and uses Facebook.

For the longtime conservative columnist and Fox News Channel contributor, the diversity of the media is a wonderful thing.

"When I started out, there were three broadcast networks," he said. "You also had The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune. They really set the agenda. Today, you’re able to get information from other sources such as Twitter and blogs."

Thomas described himself as "going with the flow" when it comes to using new media, but cautioned that there is a downside.

"One of the things that bothers me about the blogosphere is there are no editors. My editor demands to know where I’m getting my facts. She doesn’t touch my opinion, but if I make an assertion, she says, ‘Where did you get this?’ Having an editor makes a difference," he said.

Thomas, who celebrates 25 years as a syndicated columnist on April 17, began his career in radio at 16 (two weeks after his voice changed, he said) and later joined NBC News’ Washington bureau as a copy boy. He recalled being surrounded by "the best and the brightest in broadcast news," singling out Sander Vanocur, Chet Huntley and David Brinkley.

"I actually did the reverse and started in broadcast and then went to print and still do both," he said. In 1983, Thomas wrote his first column, a 700-word article that he sent to The New York Times on a lark.

Today, his op-ed appears in more than 500 newspapers worldwide via Tribune Media Services. He also writes the political right’s counterpoints to Bob Beckel’s liberal view for "Common Ground," a biweekly column for USA Today.

"It’s been incredible," he said of his unexpected career turn. "I never planned to do this. Even with newspapers going through such difficult times, we’re still over 500. It’s pretty amazing."

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