Pinkston, W. Randall 1950–
W. Randall Pinkston 1950–
He has crisscrossed the world and the United States. Randall Pinkston, or Pinkston, as he simply calls himself when he picks up his desk phone, has covered numerous top stories during the 1990s for CBS News. Among these stories were: a devastating earthquake in Turkey; the Albanian refugee crisis in Kosovo and U.S. military involvement in the Balkans; Saddam Hussein’s refusal to permit U.N. inspectors to go into Iraq; the American intervention in Haiti; the Susan Smith trial; the Freemen siege in Montana; the Unabomber story; and indentured servitude in America.
Since 1994, Pinkston has been a correspondent for CBS News in New York City. He has appeared at regular times on the CBS Evening News and CBS News Sunday Morning and has taken part in other CBS News broadcasts, among them 48 Hours. Yet while one can find numerous references to Dan Rather on the Internet, there is little personal information available about Pinkston, and one senses he wants to keep it that way. Pinkston, a modest man who does not list his awards among his achievements, is an outstanding investigative reporter.
Pinkston won an Emmy Award in 1996 for Outstanding Investigative Journalism. He also won the Edward R. Murrow Award for his reports in the CBS Reports documentary “Legacy of Shame,” which was inspired by Edward R. Murrow’s 1960 CBS documentary, “Harvest of Shame.” In the documentary, Pinkston spoke with a teenaged migrant farm worker trapped in a camp until he could pay off his “debt obligations” to his “crew leader” just for transporting him to the fruit fields. “Legacy of Shame” aired in 1995 and dealt with the continuing exploitation of migrant farm workers in places like Florida and Phoenix, El Paso and Clarendon County, South Carolina.
One writer gave the documentary a mixed review. John Leonard wrote in New York, “Dan Rather reminds us that we have been here before, feeling bad about migrant farm workers, and will probably be back again in another decade or so, to wince and deplore.…These periodic conscience-stricken inquiries into indentured servitude are almost a CBS franchise.…What’s more, for Legacy, [Rather’s] got Randall Pinkston to do the legwork. It’s a nervy Pinkston, waving tax forms and
Born W. Randall Pinkston, March 3, 1950, in Yazoo County, MS; married Patricia McLain (a certified public accountant ), 1982; children: Ada Randall Pinkston, Rolanda Johnson, Kathleen Johnson. Education: Millsaps College, B.A. in history, 1973; University of Connecticut Law School, J.D., 1980.
Career: Anchor and reporter, WLBT-TV, 1971-74; announcer, WJDX-FM Radio, 1969-71; urban affairs director, general assignment reporter, producer of a daily public affairs program, WJXT-TV, 1974-76; reporter, anchor, producer of public affairs programs and specials, WFSB-TV, 1976-80; reporter, WCBS-TV, 1980-90; White House correspondent, CBS News’ Washington, DC bureau, 1990-94; correspondent for CBS Evening News and CBS News Sunday Morning, CBS News, New York, 1994-.
Member: National Association of Black Journalists, Abyssinian Baptist Church, Wesleyan Alumni Association, University of Connecticut Law School Foundation.
Addresses: Home —Teaneck, NJ. Office — CBS News, 524 West 57th Street, New York, NY 10019.
federal regulations, who confronts the growers, their lawyers, their cops, their goons… .Legacy, personalizing a social problem, is old-fashioned network television journalism at its storytelling best.”
Pinkston also was on the scene to cover the death of Princess Diana and the TWA Fight 800 disaster. He was awarded two Emmys in 1997 and 1998 for his coverage of these stories. Also, in 1999, he was co-honored with a third-place prize for his participation in an interview with Betty Shabbazz’s daughter on the CBS Evening News with John Roberts. Before coming to New York, Pinkston worked in the CBS News bureau in Washington, DC, where he signed on with the network as a White House correspondent in 1990. He spent a lot of time reporting on the Persian Gulf War on CBS This Morning and CBS Radio. Pinkston spent two years at the White House covering President George Bush and the president’s trips abroad. He was first to broadcast the story when President Bush became ill while dining with the Japanese prime minister Miyazawa.
Prior to reporting for CBS News Pinkston reported for WCBS-TV, the station owned by CBS in New York, from 1980 until 1990. While working for WCBS-TV Pinkston covered the American political scene, including the 1984 and 1988 presidential campaigns of Jesse Jackson in New York, the 1988 Democratic National Convention in Atlanta, and several gubernatorial and Senatorial campaigns in New Jersey. Pinkston was made WCBS-TV’s New Jersey correspondent in 1989 and he garnered two Emmy Awards for his reporting there.
After a report on teenage drunk driving, Pinkston won the Public Service Award from the Greater New York Safety Council and the Outstanding Journalist Award by Black Citizens of Fair Media in 1983. His reporting helped to pave the way for changes in New York State’s drunk driving laws. Pinkston also did a series for WCBS-TV on the absence of government care for the mentally ill and physically challenged. For his work on the series, he received honors from the Scripps-Howard Foundation, the New York State Associated Press Broadcasters Association, and the Council of Churches of the City of New York.
From 1976 until 1980 Pinkston juggled several jobs at WFSB-TV, the CBS branch in Hartford, Connecticut. He served as a reporter, anchor and producer of public affairs programs and specials. From 1974 to 1976 Pinkston worked for WJXT-TV, the CBS affiliate in Jacksonville, Florida, as an urban affairs director, general assignment reporter and producer of a daily public affairs program. Pinkston began his career in Jackson, Mississippi as an anchor and reporter at WLBT-TV, from 1971 to 1974, and as an announcer at WJDX-FM, from 1969 to 1971.
Pinkston was born on March 3, 1950, in Yazoo County, Mississipi. He studied at W.H. Lier High School in Jackson, Mississippi, then attended Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. He also took part in the Michele Clark Fellowship program at Columbia University. Pinkston traveled south to Jackson, Mississippi to attend Millsaps College, where he graduated in 1973 with a B.A. in history. He traveled north again to study at the University of Connecticut Law School, where he received his J.D. degree in 1980. He and his wife, Patricia McLain, and their daughter and two stepdaughters, live in Teaneck, New Jersey.
Directory of Blacks in the Performing Arts, Scarecrow Press, 1990.
CBS Evening News with Dan Rather —Weekend Edition, “Death of a Princess.”
CBS Reports: “Legacy of Shame,” July 20, 1995, pp. 1-21.
Imaging America, April 1-15, 1997.
Media Watch, January 1995.
New York, July 24, 1995, p. 46.
Additional material for this profile was obtained through Randall Pinkston and CBS News; and through the Internet at http://ink.yahoo.com/bin/query? p=%22randal+pinkston%22+and+%22dos%22&ho=0&hs=0; http://entertaindom.ultimatetv.com/news/bn/98/shows/08/0805excellenceawards.html; Lanier High School, Jackson, Mississippi; and CBS newscasts.
—Alison Carb Sussman
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