Remembering John Alexander

I don't usually use this blog to write about matters personal to me, but the platform sometimes permits an indulgence.

Yesterday, John Alexander, a friend from my days at ABC News, died suddenly while on assignment in China. His short career included productive stints at ABC, at NPR, and now, at the Discovery Channel, where he helped produce documentaries for Ted Koppel.

John was 26.

His sense of humor ranged from the bawdy (he had an unbelievably profane LBJ impersonation) to the brilliant, and he could turn it at a switch. He was vivacious, in the best way a heterosexual male can be vicacious; an intense charmer, a young man of both deep faith and persistent skepticism, open-minded and a bull when we was arguing a cause he thought just.

He loved to travel and talk about his travel; he also really loved to work. He loved the medium of broadcasting and would have been, had he been born a few decades earlier, one of Murrow's boys, for sure. He was also just a really, really nice guy.

Those of us lucky enough to enter network television out of college always felt out of place. We were, in some sense, imposters, just mirroring what we saw and learning as we went along. John quickly mastered the intricacies of television and so quickly became an integral part of the Nightline culture that you would have thought he was a lifelong member. He was mentored by Tom Bettag, the greatest television producer in the medium's history, and though he was a few years younger than I was, John was a mentor of sorts to me.

I remember once learning of some internal Nightline gossip and went to John to see if it were true. Kindly, he told me he could not say, even knowing that I wouldn't tell a soul. He did not like to violate people's confidences. It is very rare to find someone so young with such a well-developed sense of integrity.

I did not watch Nightline last night, where John's death was announced. I learned of the news this afternoon from someone John met only once; a casual contact. But John was just that memorable.