Fred Rogers makes me wish I were nicer

Mister Rogers' Neighborhood
Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This profile breaks many rules. Read this profile and write your reaction in your blog. What does Junod do to give us a glimpse of Mister Rogers? What struck you about the piece? What reporting/observing tools did he use? What writing techniques did he use? Effective? Why? Did you like the story?

For my Feature Writing course, I had the pleasure of reading a profile on Mister Rogers. Tom Junod wrote “Can you say…’Hero’?” for Esquire Magazine. It is the best piece of writing I have seen in a long time.

Mr. Junod must have felt some pressure when writing this story. After all, he was documenting the life of one of America’s best-known television stars. Nearly everyone knows who Mister Rogers is; or at least his persona on television. What makes this piece so strikingly marvelous is that we get to see the other Fred Rogers, the one who doesn’t live in the neighborhood of Make-Believe.

Many of the  ‘rules’ of journalism were ignored in this piece. For example, the author references himself quite frequently in the piece and — GASP — uses the word “I.” This is a huge no-no. Stories are supposed to be written in third person. However, this story is extremely poignant because of Junod’s experiences with Mister Rogers. It serves as a concrete example of the deeds and words that society’s favorite neighbor performed.

I would have loved to be a fly on the wall during these interviews. It seems that the author got the priveledge of following Fred Rogers around. It leads to an interesting style of reporting; it gives the piece a certain flair, a welcome break from the normal interview story.

I loved this story. My favorite part was the detail about Mister Rogers’ weight. He weighed 143 pounds. One day he decided to only weigh 143 pounds. He would weigh himself every morning to make sure he was at his ‘perfect weight.’

I also enjoyed the excitement Fred Rogers had about death and his philosophy on heaven. I encourage everyone to think of Mister Rogers tomorrow and sing a happy song to your neighbors.

Here are some videos that I believe highlight this man’s wonderful legacy-


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