Ann Curry, the famously on-the-ground news anchor of The Today Show, contends that journalism is not merely a craft of information; it's a craft of compassion. It is a message that resonates with me. Her extensive essay in Guideposts on journalism as an act of faith draws from her personal history, growing up in a low-income mixed-race family and working her way through both the media world and the real world.
I joined NBC News in the 1990s, and found myself drawn to telling stories of people who might otherwise not be heard. Interestingly enough, what some might consider a big professional disappointment—not being named cohost of Today when Katie Couric left—has only clarified my mission. I would’ve loved that job, but not getting it made me think, What is it I need to be doing?
The answer was clear: humanitarian reporting—finding those who are suffering far from the eyes of the world and getting their stories out, making people care about them. That’s what brings me back to places like Congo. Most people don’t realize it is the site of the deadliest conflict since World War II. The fighting and war crimes against civilians challenge every definition of decency. Thousands die every month from malnutrition and disease.Yet even in this place of suffering, it is possible to find hope.’ll never forget Sifa, an 18-year-old Congolese woman I met in February 2008. I talked to her in the hospital. What she told me made me weep. Her parents were killed in front of her. She ran, but the killers caught her, chained her to a tree and raped her. She became pregnant; when the baby came, everything inside her broke. “Do you want revenge?” I asked.
She said, “No, all I want is to rise from this bed, thank the people who helped me and work for God.”...
... How do I keep doing what I do? I believe in people like Sifa, who can teach us all about resilience. And I believe in you. I know you special souls will care about people like her, who have no one to protect them.
I have faith that once you hear about someone’s suffering—even someone whose language you can’t speak, whose customs you don’t share—you will care enough to help.
Image Credit: Guideposts