The award-winning television journalist spent three decades in front of the camera, of course, including 14 years as the news anchor for the top-rated NBC morning program and one as its co-anchor. (For news junkies, that was June 2011 to June 2012.) So, the admonition to steer clear of too much screen time from Curry was unexpected for many.
Students, parents and faculty chuckled when Curry confessed that she isn’t a regular viewer of cable news programs. Instead, she prefers to stay informed by reading newspapers and magazines. She said her family has four newspapers delivered to her front doorstep daily.
Referring to the popular cable talk shows, Curry said she prefers to work out in the field, covering stories with global implications and meeting the people impacted by current events. “I don’t do political journalism,” said Curry. “I believe in analyzing stories for the truth. There’s a real need for the truth and for trust.”
Curry spent nearly 25 years at NBC as anchor, international correspondent and reporter. She also headlined Dateline NBC for six years. She is the current executive producer and reporter of We’ll Meet Again, a PBS series that features reunions of people whose lives crossed, and then separated, at pivotal moments and during world-changing events.
Curry was invited to Wilmington to take part in Tower Hill’s Forum Speaker Series, a sponsored program which brings prominent experts, scholars and media figures to the school. The auditorium was filled to capacity, demonstrating that Curry’s Today Show stint made her a household name.
In her talk, Curry told students they are part of a period of transition that is having an enormous effect on our culture, economics and on journalism itself. “This is a very tough moment for us. There is every reason to criticize journalism. But journalism allows us to thrive and move forward” said Curry. “For me it’s church.”
She also said that with the rise in popularity of cable news talk shows, students turning to broadcast journalism might feel confusion in the messaging. “What you’re seeing is not that everyone has gone mad. But you are growing up when traditional journalism is being threatened by economic change. In this transition, some people are yelling and are causing more bias to emerge. It’s really about truth and trust and the struggle to get there.”
Since her earliest days as a national correspondent, Curry has been drawn to stories about human suffering. She has covered the wars in Syria, Darfur, Congo, the Central African Republic, Serbia, Lebanon, Israel, Afghanistan and Iraq, and reported on nuclear tensions from North Korea and Iran.
But Curry always looks for a silver lining — the heroism that she says is in all of us. “I have seen humanitarian workers in war zones, volunteers rescuing people in disasters. I have interviewed people who have smuggled food, blankets and even books into Aleppo, Syria. I have documented everyday people, with little means themselves, risk it all to start food pantries for the hungry in our own country.”
She describes her stories the same way she tackles her job as reporter — in terms of empathy and human connection. She encouraged students to always look outside themselves on their flights to personal and professional success. “This is really about the wider ability to achieve the greatness that is in all of you.”
Ever hopeful, Curry told students that she is bullish on our future. “I am worried and excited about our future. One thing that gives me hope is that humans are trending toward compassion and understanding – but not everywhere all at once. I think the world is going to be great once we figure out what we’re doing!”