On Sept. 20, St. John’s welcomed Washington Post White House correspondent Anne Gearan as the featured speaker for the English Department’s annual Audience with an Author event.
Gearan earned a bachelor’s degree in English and history from Allegheny College. Before taking on her current role as White House correspondent, she covered Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the State Department. Prior to joining the Post’s staff in 2012, Gearan served as chief diplomatic correspondent, Pentagon correspondent, White House reporter and national security editor for the Associated Press and covered the Supreme Court. Gearan is also the mother of St. John’s student Claire Gearan ’20.
This summer, St. John’s AP English Literature and Composition students read All the President’s Men, by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. This symposium provided these students with the opportunity to discuss journalism and its role in our society with an experienced reporter and to present their own compositions inspired by the summer reading.
The event showcased four original essays and articles. Max Howard ’20 presented Integrity in the World of the Free Press, a piece explaining the traits an effective journalist must possess. Hannah Aguirre ’20 wrote an original piece of investigative advocacy journalism, The DC Council is Failing to Protect Families and Seniors from Gentrification. Frank Matus ’20 also shared an original article, ‘This is not a dialogue, it is a forum for negotiating your departure’: The story of the ongoing crisis in Nicaragua. And Rocky Carr ’20 presented Journalism: Democracy’s Light, an argument for journalism as a critical part of a democracy. Joe Mumola ’20 served as the event’s master of ceremonies.
Gearan then spoke about her own experiences as a journalist and the changes she’s seen to the industry during her career. During the question and answer session, students raised topics such as combatting writer’s block, staying objective, Twitter’s role in the news cycle, media bias and the separation between news and editorial departments. Overall, Gearan stressed how important it is for young people to develop a strong news literacy. “I hope people took away an appreciation for how to be good consumers of news, how to apply a good skeptical eye as readers and 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,” Gearan said.