Rather than just research what it was like being a journalist, Robert Walden worked briefly as a journalist to get a feel for the craft, compiling more than 20 published pieces.
His 73 acting credits include a movie (“All the President’s Men”) and a television show (“Lou Grant”) with journalism themes.
Walden visited the Hill Country Film Festival on Saturday, April 29, and sat with University of Texas professor Paul Stekler to discuss his career, advice for actors, his friendship with Oscar-winning screen writer Sidney (Paddy) Chayefsky and his concerns about the newspaper business.
“In a word, sickened,” Walden said, when asked to describe the state of current journalism. “It’s really upsetting that you talk about robbing the opportunity of arts, creativity and even the economy. These are healthy things all cultures need, and they’re being eliminated, spat upon or not cherished.”
The actor considers journalism’s job to be the voice of the people, and he remembered a time when journalists were respected, cherished and honored.
“Yes, there was yellow journalism, but people need to have a voice and the newspapers were it,” he said.
Walden described his religion as “the arts,” describing theater, culture and film as places where he worships, gets his spiritual support and nourishment.
“Not only there, but much of it there,” Walden said. “I feel it’s the health of the nation to preserve their culture and share it with other nations and people. It seems to prevent wars, not encourage them. It lessens hostilities. People find a commonality.”
Walden described communication as important for world peace.
“I’m very emotional about everything that’s going on right now, as you might sense,” he said. “I’m a New York City guy originally, so I’m not passive.”
Playing a newsman
Growing up in New York City, Walden remembered a time when the city had seven newspapers with all different viewpoints. His father would buy three different papers a day and read them.
In “Lou Grant,” he played reporter Joe Rossi. Walden spent time talking to journalists and was surprised by how many different styles he encountered. Some worked with tape recorders, others took notes, and some worked entirely from memory.
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