La Jolla resident pens ‘Journeys with Jimmy Carter’
Despite the title, “Journeys with Jimmy Carter and Other Adventures in Media,” by La Jolla resident Barry Jagoda is not just about our 39th president. It’s about the early days of television use in presidential candidacies. It’s about Emmy-winning coverage of the Watergate scandal. It’s about how we’ve evolved into an era of “fake news.” It’s about a personal and professional journey of growing up on “the wrong side of the tracks,” according to the author, with immigrant parents to working in the White House.
Published by Koehler Books, the tome is available wherever books are sold.
“I hope readers understand this memoir is more than a vision of the Carter Administration,” Jagoda said, but noted that the book is filled with stories that provide an inside look.
“During the whole year Carter was running for president, I was his TV advisor,” he said. “Ahead of the 1976 election, I was invited by his press secretary to visit and talk about what television could do for his campaign. [Carter] didn’t know much about TV and asked how I would change him [for television]. He was still governor, so I said ‘Governor Carter, I wouldn’t change you, but think of the impact of what you say and do can have when viewed on the news media. He said, ‘I guess this guy can help us if he wants to’ and that’s how I got started.”
Jagoda also helped during the televised presidential debates – a budding field in the campaign process.
“Suddenly, Carter was elected president,” Jagoda said. “It was almost more than one could emotionally accept. I remember I was standing there on the front lawn of the White House and watched the Inauguration Parade go by. I said it was amazing but the rest of staff said, ‘we have to get to work,’ so we went inside and got to work. I went to my desk and there was a note that said, ‘It was at this desk that I wrote Nixon’s resignation speech.’ It was from his speech writer.”
The book draws parallels between Carter and former president Richard Nixon, but also between Carter and current president Donald Trump.
“People talk a lot about Trump, but seeing the contrast in how the two men handled the Office of the Presidency is important,” he said. “Jimmy Carter always said, ‘I will not lie to you,’ whereas our current president is often accused of not being able to tell the truth. So the book also includes what I call a Citizen’s Guide to the Election, which is bipartisan and shows how people can participate.”
In addition to his life in the political realm, Jagoda also delves into his life in media. Having assisted in covering the Apollo 11 moon landing of 1969, during which Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong became the first people to set foot on the moon, Jagoda was part of an Emmy-winning team at CBS.
The book contains a photo taken by Neil Armstrong of Buzz Aldrin on the moon, signed by the two astronauts.
“That picture is emblematic of some of my adventures,” Jagoda said.
While working abroad on a long-term media assignment, Jagoda got the call that would eventually land him a home in La Jolla.
“I was in Trinidad and Tobago and I got a call from Winifred Cox who was running the campus media relations at UC San Diego and she asked if I would apply for a job as director of communications at UCSD,” he said. “This gave me pause because I was enjoying my work and my time. But I remembered a conversation with my wife from several years earlier. She was going to a conference in San Diego, and after spending the day in La Jolla, I asked ‘Why aren’t we living here?’ My wife said we weren’t living there because I didn’t have a job.”
Jagoda accepted the job and worked for the Communications department at UCSD for 10 years until his retirement five years ago.
“When my job at UCSD was over, I decided to write this memoir,” he said. “A wonderful of advantage of the California coast is the ocean and beach; it provides comfort for brain and body. So coming to live in La Jolla is a part of my story. Another takeaway is if you are going to live in California – live near the coast.”
The book is available for $7.99 as an e-book, $18.95 as a soft-cover and $28.95 as a hard-cover. Learn more: barryjagoda.com.◆
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