“It’s so good to be home,” Ann Curry said, standing in front of a room packed with journalism students and community members alike. The NBC foreign correspondent returned to her alma mater the University of Oregon on Thursday to deliver a speech on ethics and journalism as part of the University’s Ruhl Lecture series.
Curry, who graduated from the School of Journalism and Communications in 1978, spoke at the sold out event at the Ford Alumni Center about the future of journalism and the motivation that young journalists must have for a successful career. According to Curry, the most important ethic in journalism is simply standing up for important stories and giving a voice to the voiceless.
“This is the ethic that has always set apart the great journalists of our time,” she said. “Let it set you apart.”
Curry described journalism as a tough career, one that is as messy as a street fight. Knowing what one is fighting for, she said, helps in navigating the field.
Curry has had her share of tough experiences in her career. As a national and international correspondent for NBC as well as a main anchor for the Today Show, she has covered events ranging from genocide in Darfur to tsunamis in Indonesia. Curry described herself as a survivor of post-traumatic stress disorder from the events she had witnessed.
However, her passion for her career shone through.
“Journalists are not activists, nor are they sitting on the sidelines,” she said. “They are in the fray, empowering humanity.”
Curry said the most important lesson she learned at the University was why journalists are committed to their careers.
“The best journalists have some sort of a sense of duty and responsibility and a wish for a life that might contribute to something,” she said. “That’s the best lesson I learned.”