Fireside Chat with Dan Rather
With a famed and storied career that has spanned more than six decades, DAN RATHER became one of the world’s most well-known journalists. He helped pioneer the very idea that television could be a place for news, and then kept that spirit of innovation alive by constantly pushing the boundaries of what video storytelling could accomplish. Along the way, his work ethic, nose for investigative reporting, and calmness and composure in moments of triumph and tragedy made him a respected voice that millions of people have trusted to make sense of a complicated world. Now, he has found a new audience through social media and the best-selling collection of essays, What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism.
Rather’s resume reads like a history book. He personally covered almost every important dateline of the last 60 years. From his first big assignment at a local news station covering Hurricane Carla, to the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Rather was there reporting the news to America and the world. On the scene in Dallas, he was key in breaking the news of President John F. Kennedy’s death, and uncovered key developments as a White House correspondent during the widespread criminal conspiracy known as Watergate. He was outside Martin Luther King, Junior’s jail cell in Birmingham and at the anchor desk for countless hours on 9/11 and the days that followed. He reported from the Berlin Wall when it fell, spent a year covering the jungle combat zones of Vietnam, and was forced off the air at Tiananmen Square when the Chinese government’s crackdown began. He began asking presidents tough questions beginning with Eisenhower in the 1950s.
And yet Rather’s range was such that in addition to covering world changing events, he quickly gained a reputation as a gifted, versatile, and nuanced storyteller whose reports rung with empathy and even humor when warranted.
Rather got his start in print, then moved into radio and local television news, before joining CBS News in 1962. He quickly rose through the ranks, and in 1981 he assumed the position of anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News a post he held for 24 years. His reporting was featured across the network. It helped turn 60 Minutes into an institution, launched 48 Hours as an innovative fly on the wall news magazine program, and shaped countless specials and documentaries. Upon leaving CBS, Rather returned to the in-depth reporting he always loved by creating the Emmy Award winning primetime news magazine and documentary program, Dan Rather Reports on the cable network HDNet. Now, building upon that foundation, he is president and CEO of News and Guts, an independent production company he founded that specializes in high-quality non fiction content across a range of traditional and digital distribution channels. His personal Facebook page and the one for News and Guts, along with his legions of Twitter followers, have become a beacon for context, perspective, and reason for millions. And his book What Unites Us is reshaping the national dialogue about what patriotism can and should mean at a perilous time in American history.
While Rather has won all of the most prestigious journalism awards (many times over) and has reported from the majority of nations on earth, he considers himself first and foremost a Texan. He is a proud native son of Wharton and Houston, and he graduated from what is now Sam Houston State University. Rather’s unique Texas phrases have become a hallmark of his winsome and approachable style to reporting and storytelling.
Mark Suster is a Partner at Upfront Ventures. He joined the firm in 2007 after having previously worked with Upfront Ventures for nearly 8 years as a two-time entrepreneur. Before joining Upfront Mark was Vice President, Product Management at Salesforce.com following its acquisition of Koral, where Mark was Founder and CEO. Prior to Koral, Mark was Founder and CEO of BuildOnline, a European SaaS company that was acquired by SWORD Group. Earlier in his career, Mark spent nearly ten years working for Accenture in Europe, Japan and the U.S.
Mark looks to invest in passionate entrepreneurs in early-stage technology businesses. His interests include Digital Content and Distribution, AdTech, Consumer Internet, and SaaS businesses and he has deep operating experience having started and sold his last two companies.