Tom Brokaw fields questions from Wilson High students.

Tom Brokaw made time during a busy Portland visit to meet with students from Wilson High School at the new Literary Arts event space downtown. He told the student journalists they are coming of age at a critical time. While the future of print journalism is uncertain, Brokaw said he remains optimistic that “the culture of journalism, that of informing US citizens of what is being said around the world in their name, will not change.” Then he opened the floor for student questions, “or answers.”

One visitor remarked that when listening to coverage of the Pearl Harbor attack, she was struck by the emotion in the correspondent’s voice. Asked to name an event that had a similar effect on him, Brokaw said, “9/11. We were as unprepared for 9/11 as they were for Pearl Harbor. Nobody knew what was coming next.” He remembered being focused on getting through the next hour, and telling the audience what was known, without adding speculation.

Students arrived at the meeting with questions already prepared. They had read in class copies of Brokaw’s book, The Greatest Generation, supplied by Literary Arts’ Students to the Schnitz program. They were on their way to his appearance at the Schnitzer that night. After a lively discussion, Brokaw offered his signature advice to those aspiring to a career in journalism, “Have you thought about medicine?”