Eric Sevareid, who is retiring after 38 years with CBS News, delivered his final daily commentary last night on the CBS Evening News. The following is a transcript of his remarks:
"By my time of life one has accumulated more allegiances and moral debts than the mind can remember or the heart contain.
"So I cannot enumerate my betters, my mentors and susbtainers during so many years of trying to use with sense, this communications instrument, as unperfected as the persons who use it. But they know that I know who they are.
"Many are gone, including the man who invented me, Ed Murrow. Some died in the wars we were reporting. I have gone the normal span of a man's working life, rather abnormal in this calling, and it's a happy surprise.
"We were like a young band of brothers in those early radio days with Murrow. If my affections are not easily given, neither are they easily withdrawn. I have remained through it all with CBS News, and if it is regarded as old-fashioned to feel loyalty to an organizations, so be it.
"Mine has been, here, an unelected, unlicensed, uncodified office and function. The rules are self-imposed. These were a few:
"Not to underestimate the intelligence of the audience and not to overestimate its formation.
"To elucidate, when one can, more then to advocate.
"To remember always that the public is only people, and people only persons, no two alike.
"To retain the courage of one's doubts as well as one's convictions in this world of dangerously passionate certainties.
"To comfort oneself, in times of error, with the knowledge that the saving grace of the press, print or broadcast, is its self-correcting nature. And to remember that ignorant and biased reporting has its counterpart in ignorant and biased reading and listening. We do not speak into an intellectual or emotional void.
"One's influence cannot be measured. History provides, for the journalist, no markers or milestones. But he is allowed to take his memories.
"And one can understand, as he looks back, the purpose of the effort and why it must be done.
"A friend and teacher, the late Walter Lippmann, described the role of the professional reporter and observer of the news in this manner:
"We make it our business,' he said, 'to find out what is going on, under the surface and beyond the horizon; to infer, to deduce, to imagine and to guess what is going on inside - and what this meant yesterday and what it could mean tomorrow. In this way we do what every sovereign citizen is supposed to do but has not the time or the interest to do it for himself. This is our job. It is no mean calling and we have a right to be proud of it and be glad that it is our work.'
"In the end, of course, it is not one's employers or colleagues that sustain one quite so much as the listening public when it be so minded.
"And I have found that it applies only one consistent test - not agreement with one on substance - but the perception of honesty and fair intent. There is, in the American people, a tough, undiminished instinct for what is fair, Rightly or wrongly, I have the feeling what I have passed the test. I shall wear this like a medal.
"Millions have listened, intently or indifferently, in agreement and in powerful disagreement. Tens of thousands have written their thoughts to me.
"I will feel, always, that I stand in their midst.
"This was Eric Sevareid in Washington. Thank you and goodbye."