Miami alum at CBS says sources are ‘currency’

By Patricia Gallagher Newberry

In a TV reporting career that has taken him across the country – landing him in Washington, D.C., in 2013 -- Miami University alum Jeff Pegues has learned that sources are everything.

“My currency,” Pegues told students in an introductory journalism class March 30, “is breaking news stories that trend.”

To achieve that, he puts in long hours as the justice and homeland security correspondent for CBS News. That’s been especially true this spring as Congress has investigated alleged ties between members of the Trump administration and Russian authorities.

“The art of developing sources is so important,” he said, noting the need to obtain and confirm information with the FBI, CIA, National Security Administration, law enforcement agencies and more. “With that information, I can break some big stories.”

Jeff Pegues

Jeff Pegues

That kind of shoe-leather reporting is expected at CBS, in the tradition of Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite. “We believe in old-fashioned journalism,” Pegues said.

Recycled news from competitors doesn’t cut it, Pegues said. He double checks information with multiple sources to get his own scoops. “If (CBS Evening News anchor) Scott Pelley comes to me, I don’t want to repeat what other people are reporting.”

Pegues brought deep reporting experience to the network from his earlier assignments. Working for network affiliates in eight markets since he graduated from Miami in 1992 – including ones in Dayton, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Miami, Baltimore and New York -- he’s covered many of the top news stories of recent years: Terrorist attacks in Orlando and San Bernadino, Calif.; police-involved incidents in Baltimore and Ferguson, Mo.; presidential elections; Hurricane Sandy.

At CBS, where he began as a general assignment reporter before moving on to transportation and then justice issues, Pegues aims to develop sources in service to good journalism. “It’s more important than ever that you rely on trusted sources of news,” he said.

When he arrived in D.C., Pegues thought he’d be gunning for the White House beat by now. (“The route to stardom is through the White House,” he said.) Instead, he’s convinced news about Russian interference in U.S. politics is one of the country’s biggest stories at present. “This is the story that will define my career,” he said. “I have a feeling we’re going to be looking back in two years or five years and say, ‘That was huge.’ ”

During his Miami years, Pegues was a starting wide receiver for the Miami football team with a major in mass communications. He started on the path to journalism after rejecting a job selling carpet in Dalton, Ga., and meeting a man who ran 10 TV stations, one of them in Rockford, Ill. “I drove there and I begged,” he said. “Twenty-five years later, I’m still in touch.”

Pegues was in Oxford as one of five alums honored during the Department of Media, Journalism & Film’s annual MJF Alumni Days.