On Thursday, Sept. 20, Anne Gearan, White House Correspondent for The Washington Post, visited St. John’s to speak with Ms. Gelso’s AP English Language and Composition classes at the annual Audience with an Author Symposium.
After reading All the President’s Men this summer as part of their study of Truth, Journalism, and Democracy, students had the opportunity to learn from Gearan’s firsthand experience as a reporter and share some of their own writing. Juniors Max Howard, Hannah Aguirre, Frank Matus, and Rocky Carr presented their own pieces, and Joe Mumola served as master of ceremonies.
As she spoke about her experiences at The Washington Post and the Associated Press, Gearan emphasized the importance of responsible news consumption, news literacy, and the qualities of good journalism. She also kindly took time to answer questions from students on topics ranging from shifts in journalism to the impacts of partisan media. Gearan shared that she is a “huge advocate” for high school newspapers, where she had her first experiences reporting. The Sabre had the chance to speak with her about what she has learned as a reporter and her thoughts on the future of journalism.
Of journalism today, Gearan said, “The single greatest challenge right now is the sheer amount of material that we potentially can cover. We can’t cover everything! There is so much news. We’re really living in a whole new news environment.
“More people are reading our material now than have ever read it before. They’re receiving it in different ways, but we’ve got more eyeballs on The Washington Post’s content and more people are reading what I write than certainly they ever did when we were just a physical newspaper. I’m glad for that. It gives me hope because people want the information, and I think we’re in a bit of an overheated cycle right now where everything’s breaking news, everything’s fast, and that can be a challenge, a workload challenge. But it’s also a really good sign.”
Amidst a changing journalistic landscape, she hopes “that journalism remains a product, a commodity, that [people see as] valuable.”
As to her fondest memories in reporting, she spoke of time spent with her colleagues. Her work has given many her opportunities to travel, leaving her with “pictures from all around the world. Each of those pictures has a memory attached to it. Some of the worst experiences make for some of the best memories, and spending long periods of time in…tin can trailers in Afghanistan and Iraq doesn’t sound glamorous- it isn’t- but it’s valuable journalistic work and it’s fun to be with your colleagues.” She credits traveling with giving her a perspective “you’re not going to get from trying to write the same story from Washington.”
In regards to rising numbers of aspiring journalists, she understands the desire to “want to make sure that your views, your community, and your world is reflected.” She says that having more students interested in careers in journalism is “good news. Come, join us, tell that story! I’m delighted.”
She encouraged all students to “keep reading. Always be a reader. Read whatever you want, but always be a reader.” When asked what she hoped everyone took away from the symposium, she hopes “people took away an appreciation for how to be good consumers of news, how to apply a good skeptical eye as readers, how to think a little bit about where and from what sources you want to get your news, and what you do with it when you get it.”