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David Rohde, Foreign Affairs Columnist, Reuters

 

Jeff Glor Tells OPC Foundation Scholars to ‘Stay Focused’ Amid Threats to News Biz

February 23, 2018

by Chad Bouchard               

CBS Evening News anchor Jeff Glor told a packed room at the OPC Foundation Scholar Awards Luncheon that journalists at the start of their careers should remember that this is not the first time that the industry has faced challenges.

“This is not a completely unique moment in our history,” he said during a keynote address at the Feb. Jeff Glor23 event at the Yale Club. “If the reporting is extraordinary, people will find it.”

The Emmy-award winner called for optimism despite obstacles such as shrinking overseas bureaus and faltering public trust in news. “Good journalists make other journalists better. We can and must inspire each other. Stay focused,” Glor said.

The list of recipients included 16 graduate and undergraduate students aspiring to become foreign correspondents, with six scholars from Columbia University, two from City University of New York, one from New York University, two from Brown University, and one each from the University of Missouri, DePauw University, University of California-Berkeley, University of Texas at Austin and Yale.

Each of the scholars spoke about their own paths to journalism, many sharing anecdotes from the field.
Among them was Jack Brook, the David R Schweisberg Memorial Scholarship winner, who opened the acceptance speeches with a story about his first assignment covering protests in Chile last summer while working for the Santiago Times, showing up in jeans and a tee shirt amid riot police in armored vehicles and protesters wearing gas masks.

“And that’s how I ended my first day in Santiago, soaking wet from water cannons, my face stinging from tear gas, alone in a metropolis where I knew no one,” he said, adding that the while the adventure of such experiences is exciting, he cares more about “holding conversations with people quite different than myself and listening deeply to those stories and engaging their perspectives without judgement.” Brook plans to work as a freelancer in Hong Kong this summer.

Other comments from scholars included those of Harper’s Magazine Scholarship winner Adriana Carranca Corrêa, a Brazilian multimedia journalist with several years of foreign reporting experience. She said at the beginning of her career many editors warned her that the profession of journalism was unstable and dying.

“I refused to believe that. I think it’s a great time to be a journalist. It has become even more relevant, and the good news is that people are realizing that.” As evidence of the profession’s importance, she recalled recently that her copy of The New York Times was stolen from her doorstep in the Bronx. “We are back in the game!” she joked, since it means someone still thinks the news is valuable enough to steal. Corrêa will serve as an OPC Foundation fellow with Reuters in Brussels.

The Stan Swinton Scholarship went to Isabel DeBré, who talked about her experience pitching big political stories in Beirut only to have editors reject them one by one. She recalled nearly falling into a big hole in the street one day, and pitched road conditions as a story. “That actually turned into my first feature on how unsafe walking conditions in Beirut were quite literally killing people.” She also wrote about anti-sectarian university clubs and chased down a sexual health hotline number she fYale Clubound on a restroom wall at a club. She said those kinds of stories “taught me a value that I will always strive to carry with me: Fresh eyes. Not necessarily those of a young foreign naïve reporter, but those of someone who takes notice and takes every conversation experience as an opportunity to indulge curiosity and follow it.” DeBré will head to Jerusalem on an OPC Foundation fellowship with The Associated Press.

This year marked the launch of the Sally Jacobsen Fellowship, named after the veteran Associated Press correspondent based in Mexico City and Brussels who died suddenly last May. Bill Holstein, OPC Foundation president, said Jacobsen was the AP’s first female international editor who “smashed the glass ceiling.”

The first recipient was Hiba Dlewati, who talked about her experience reporting on the U.S. coalition defeat of ISIS forces in June 2015 near the Syria-Turkey border, where thousands of people were displaced from the fighting. She said she discovered many different and conflicting perspectives among survivors. “We are living in increasingly polarized times, and it’s easy to just hear what you want to hear,” she said. “One of the most humbling and eye opening lessons journalism has taught me is that there are many truths to any story.”

 

 

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