It’s not uncommon for people to come up to me and ask, “Why do I know you?”
Sometimes they pause for a moment and realize, “Oh, you’re that guy on ‘NBC News’ and the ‘Today Show.’ ” The sightings usually end with a compliment.
But on a recent Sunday, while traveling through Reagan Airport, I was stopped no less than five times.
In each case the person said a variation of: “Your job to keep us informed has never been more important. Thank you for what you do.”
I have worked for “NBC News” for more than 25 years. I’ve had people thank me for reports during and right after: hurricanes, the unfolding chaos of the Boston Marathon bombing, 9-11, the anxiety of the shooting at the Fort Lauderdale airport.
But in the calm of a late-morning flight from Reagan, while I had tea in one hand and a bagel in the other, people came up to me with urgency in their voices to say “Thank you for being a journalist.”
Just days earlier, a woman at the Nashville airport stopped me cold to say, “Your job has never been more important than it is right now. Thank you for what you do.”
As some people yell “fake news” to my face (as happened outside the Broward federal court when I covered a hearing for the alleged Fort Lauderdale airport gunman), I’m encouraged as I encounter others who believe my profession, the only one codified in the U.S. Constitution, is still respected as an important part of our democracy.
As they used to say on TV: Stay tuned.