Christina Thompson (’18) Reflects on Covering Hurricane Florence

christina_thompson_headshotI’ve wanted to work in the news for as long as I can remember. When I was 15 years old, I applied and auditioned for a reporting job on the show Teen Kids News in New York. I ended up getting it, and from there, this path became even more solidified for me. In college, I interned for a sports production company for the Olympics in London, CBS This Morning in New York City, and WGHP Fox 8 in High Point. Now, I work full time as an on-air reporter for WCTI ABC News Channel 12/Fox Eastern Carolina. It’s definitely been a whirlwind trying to navigate the crazy, stressful, wonderful world of TV news from a young age, but it’s also been incredibly fulfilling.

We are living in a subjective, one-sided, closed-minded world. A world where journalists are often depicted as villains in a polarized society. A world where the role of a journalist has never been more important.

Unfortunately, the past few years have seen a trend of world leaders attempting to diminish the work of integrity-driven journalists. Journalists who have spent their entire lives building credibility, sources, and storytelling skills are now subject to heightened — and often unfair — scrutiny. When I got to college, all the negativity surrounding journalists caused me to momentarily reevaluate my dream to become a morning show anchor in a top 5 TV market. That is, until I realized just how crucial the role of the journalist is in today’s society.

thompson_hurricane_1Journalism, at its core, aims to inform the public. I learned just how integral and truly lifesaving information dispersal is for a community while covering Hurricane Florence as she ravaged eastern North Carolina. Because of newscasts, hundreds of thousands of people learned about mandatory evacuations and storm surge warnings. Because of newscasts, these people were able to make a well educated and informed decision about whether or not to flee their homes before the storm. I can’t tell you how many of these people have reached out to me saying this information saved their lives. People who, without seeing this information, would have stayed in their homes — many of which were flooded 8+ feet underwater.

The role of the journalist is to inform in as unbiased and objective manner as possible. It’s to get out in the community and report on relevant and current topics that add value and depth to a viewer’s life. It’s not to sit behind a desk in a pretty studio and shout opinions about politicians and social issues. Most journalists understand this. But they can’t do their job when the public thinks all their meticulously gathered facts are fake. It’s important for the press to continue delivering news, and for the public to continue consuming news from multiple outlets so that we can all continue making informed decisions as a society.

Christina Thompson WFU’18