Listening to a journalism ‘god’


One of the first things that sparked a real interest in journalism for me was a movie that we watched in my high school journalism class called “All the President’s Men.”

The movie is a political thriller that follows the real-life story of American journalists Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, who are famous for their investigative reporting on the Watergate scandal during their time with The Washington Post in 1972.

For journalists, Woodward and Bernstein are practically gods.

Over the weekend I saw god – Bob Woodward that is.

Woodward was one of the keynote speakers at the ACP National College Media Convention this past weekend in Washington and he spoke to over a thousand student journalists about his life’s work.

I’ve fan-girled over plenty of celebrities and band members in my short lifetime, but never have I fan-girled over a 73-year-old journalist, nor have I ever imagined that I would.

But here I was, sitting probably 100 rows back from this iconic man, barely able to see and jotting down notes on my little notebook like a mad person.

Before Woodward even came out on the stage, I had chills when I heard the theme song from “All the President’s Men.”

I don’t know if it’s more pathetic that I was able to immediately recognize the song from a movie that probably less than 1 percent of my generation has seen, or that it was able to give me chills.

Either way, I was just happy to be there and experience this moment in all my dorky journalistic glory.

While almost everything Woodward said was important and quote worthy, a few things really resonated with me.

One thing he mentioned was that, “all good work is done in defiance of management” and that it’s important to challenge and defy authority sometimes in order to tell the right story.

I always forget that journalism isn’t public relations and every story doesn’t have to paint the subject in a positive manner. That’s something I want to think about more with the continuation of my journalism career at Gannon.

Another thing he said was that for any area that you’re studying, participating in journalism is not a waste of time.

This resonated with me because although I’m not majoring in journalism, the work I’m doing is benefitting me in a number of ways and I’m becoming a well-rounded individual.

One of the last things that really hit me was a simple quote from Woodward stating, “You have the hammer – its called the First Amendment.”

This quote didn’t really mean much to me until later in the weekend when I stood next to an exhibit in Washington’s “Newseum” that depicted all of the nations that are without full freedom of the press. I realized that it is a blessing to live in a nation where I can freely express and write my opinion, and it’s my duty to use this freedom to provide the public with quality information.

Being able to listen to Woodward speak and being a part of the ACP Convention was an entirely humbling experience. I look forward to seeing where journalism takes me and I plan to use the advice from Woodward in my future work with The Gannon Knight.