Georgetown graduate and CNN correspondent Eileen O’Connor (SFS ’81) spoke about the importance of ethics in broadcast journalism during a Career Spotlight presentation last night.

Dedicating the majority of her presentation to a question-and-answer-based format, O’Connor responded to students’ concerns and questions about the field of journalism.

O’Connor tackled the issue of the rapidly changing field of journalism, as media continue to become more Internet based. She said the AOL-CNN merger is an example of media’s shift to include the Internet.

Additionally, O’Connor said ethics is a constant struggle in journalism. People give power to the press and it is important for journalists to remember they are primarily responsible to the people, she said.

According to O’Connor, journalism has become too much of a “fame game,” as journalists lose touch with the public in search for lucrative stories. Journalism now contains too much opinion and too much of a show business mentality, O’Connor said. She said this as a reason why more and more people may be turning their attention away from television and toward the Internet.

O’Connor said it is both an exciting and confusing time to be entering the field of journalism. While changing media forms present new and promising opportunities, the ethical debate can create confusion. Journalists must face the ethical questions of what kind of stories they wish to cover, either those that pay well or those that provide public service by informing.

Obtaining a specialty is key to succeeding in journalism, O’Connor stressed. Employers are looking for journalists with expertise in a certain area. O’Connor advised potential journalists to pursue various areas of expertise.

To get a foot in the door, O’Connor recommended that students pursue internships or low-paying positions. If interested in overseas reporting, prospective journalists should move overseas and contact journalism bureaus there, she said.

When asked how she balances her career with motherhood, O’Connor said it is a very difficult task. O’Connor said she realized the need to come home from Russia when her daughter asked her, “Mommy, what happens to me if you get shot?”

O’Connor and her husband, a producer for “20/20,” alternate travel times, as well as hire a nanny to make it easier on their children. O’Connor said because so many women are working, companies are more flexible. However, she went on to say there is a double standard, and one should put off having children until one has established a career and flexibility within that career.

A 1981 Georgetown University graduate, O’Connor began her career for ABC and eventually worked as a producer for Peter Jennings. She transferred to CNN and spent seven years as a national correspondent in the Moscow bureau, then moving to the Washington bureau in 1997. She is the recipient of many broadcast awards, including an Emmy for her coverage of Chechnya.

The first of a series of spotlight speakers sponsored by MBNA Career Education Center and GUTV, O’Connor’s speech filled the seminar room with the audience spilling into the MBNA center. GUTV will be holding its next Television Career Highlight Feb. 26 on the future of television and the Internet.

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