Newsman Rabel has new book

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Ed Rabel, the renowned national television correspondent, will have his memoir -- "Ed Rabel Reports: Lies, Wars and Other Misadventures" -- published at the end of next week.Today, after traveling all over the globe, Rabel lives in Alum Creek, 14 miles south of Charleston.An Emmy and George Polk Award winning reporter, Rabel worked at CBS for 20 years, from 1965 to 1985, then at NBC for 13 years, between 1985 and 1998."The war in Vietnam was the first war I covered as a television reporter. I went in 1970 and stayed there for 14 months. I was in also Israel for several years," Rabel said during an interview with The Charleston Gazette. "I was also a national security correspondent at the Pentagon for four years [between 1993 and 1997]."I covered the civil rights movement and interviewed Martin Luther King before he was assassinated" in 1968.Rabel also covered political events and military conflicts in other countries including Nicaragua, El Salvador, Panama and Cuba -- which he has visited 100 times.Last month, Rabel went to his high school reunion at St. Albans High School, where he graduated in 1957 and had worked for the school newspaper."Back in 1956, at the beginning of our senior year, the school was integrated."Today, Rabel is also a strategic communications counselor and adjunct journalism professor at Washington State University's Edward R. Murrow College of Communications.After graduating from St. Albans, Rabel began his journalism career at the local radio station, WKLC-FM.His first job in television was with channel 8, Charleston's CBS affiliate, where he became news director."I covered the presidential election in West Virginia in 1960," Rabel said. John F. Kennedy's primary victory in the Mountain State was a major factor helping him win the Democratic nomination for president. "I did pieces about poverty programs that Kennedy began in West Virginia and CBS spotted me," Rabel said. "I got to work with people like Dan Rather, Charles Kuralt and Walter Cronkite.
"After 40 years in exile, I returned home," Rabel said. "When I went to my class reunion, I realized a lot of people left the state and never returned...."There are few opportunities here, except for the dying industry of coal.Rabel's editorDrollene Plattner Brown also graduated from St. Albans in 1957 and attended the July class reunion. Brown, who lives in Florida, helped Rabel edit his new book.Brown has published several books herself, including "A Dragon's Life," "Flight Into Darkness," "Levy County: Voices from the Past" and "Thomas and Launia" -- a book about a Lincoln County family.Brown has also authored or co-authored children's books, including "Belva Lockwood Wins Her Case," a biography of the first woman to run for the United States president back in 1884.
Brown taught sociology in Boca Raton, Fla., before she began focusing on writing."The main thing an editor has to do," she said during an interview last month, "is to make sure the chronology is right and words are used so they make sense to the reader."Brown has written seven books herself and edited 60 others."It was such a pleasure working with Ed," she said. "He was the voice of St. Albans High School. I was editor of the student newspaper."Rabel said, "My book is much more readable because of Drollene's help."We both emerged as young, healthy adults [in St. Albans], after Brown v. Board of Education."[That 1954 Supreme Court ruling integrated public schools across the country.]"I grew up in a racist household and community," Rabel said. "We still do not live in a post-racial America."Covering warsRabel remembers the Vietnam War in Quang Tri, a town on the coast of Vietnam off the South China Sea."I was covering a mobile surgical hospital. But I was not prepared for the gore and horror of war."Rabel said he remembers "a young woman [nurse] who took off her scrubs and put on her bikini one day. Waves of water from the South China Sea rolled onto the sands and tickled her tiny toes whose nails were painted in various shades of magenta."Richard Nixon prolonged the war, Rabel said, "because he wanted to get out 'with honor,' and 20,000 more soldiers were killed."Today, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are costing us trillions of dollars. Some of the mistakes made back then are being made again."We have learned you put as few boots on the ground as possible. We don't like long wars."So the military is using technology, like cyber warfare and drones. It is new, less costly and not as many people are in the military," Rabel said."In the Pentagon, they know the American people don't like to see bodies of American soldiers in a place like Somalia," an African country where the U.S. worked with a failed United Nations peacekeeping effort during the mid-1990s.In 2003, Rabel was in Baghdad, working with U.S. officials and new Iraqi leaders trying to create a free press in a war-torn country. Rabel helped train local reporters how to create and run television news free from government control.Today, Rabel is thinking about writing "another book with a panoramic view of coal in this region, including unions and company titans. I would like to give people more understanding about out region, particularly for miners."I am also particularly interested in showing what happened to unions, partly because of Reagan," Rabel said.When the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization went on strike, Reagan fired 11,345 of the 13,000 PATCO workers who refused to end their strike and return to work in August 1981.@tag:Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjnyden@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.
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