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Weekend Today, my window on the world

September 16, 2012

I like the “Today” show a lot. Shocking, I know. But what many people do not know is that my love for the “Today” show actually began during the weekends with Weekend Today. This morning, Weekend Today celebrated 25 years on the air, so I set an alarm for 6:45 and was up by 7 to watch the celebration. They brought back former anchors and looked at old clips, and it was a jolly time. But in this post, I want to talk about something specific: my first role model in journalism, Campbell Brown.

Weekend Today truly was my window on the world throughout middle school. I would wake up every single Saturday and Sunday to see Campbell Brown and Lester Holt report the news, interview celebrities and act goofy. I loved it, more than during the week even, for on the weekends, I could watch the entire show. I remember in eighth grade, I told my English teacher and basically anyone who would listen that I wanted to be the next Campbell Brown. Most people didn’t know who she was, but that didn’t matter because I thought she was the greatest journalist I’d ever seen. And this was during the Katie Couric era!

I have a flashbulb memory of the day Campbell Brown left Weekend Today. It was July 22, 2007, and I was sitting in the bonus room in my house in Richmond, reading the final Harry Potter book (it came out the day before) while watching Weekend Today. The day before, Campbell had said something about a big announcement on Sunday, so I was anxiously awaiting that. I was nervous. I distinctly remember her voice cracking in the opening when she said “Good morning,” so I had a bad feeling about that announcement. Turns out, that day, Campbell Brown announced it was her last morning on “Today.” I cried, and I locked myself in the bonus room because I was completely infuriated with my parents for not driving me to New York City the day before so I could see Campbell on her last day. I just wanted to meet my role model; was that too much to ask?

Anyway, Campbell went on to host a primetime show on CNN for a few years, and I’m not sure what she’s up to now. Her name has shown up a few times in opinion pieces, I believe. Good for her. But I am sure many of you are wondering: why was Campbell Brown, of all people, your role model, Allison?

Campbell Brown made me the “Today” show fan I am today, so anyone who has heard me talk about “Today” has her to thank! But really, I can recall her in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, in Torino at the 2006 Olympics, in Vatican City when Pope John Paul II died, etc. After Hurricane Katrina, Campbell interviewed a 9-year-old boy named Charles, whose life had been completely altered by this disaster. She brought a very human element to the tragic news event; her story made people feel connected, and she gave this child a voice. This example epitomizes what I hope to do in the field of journalism – go to the places where news is happening and give the news a human element. Of course, back in eighth grade, I didn’t really think about the type of stories I wanted to do; I just knew I loved the “Today” show and wanted to try out journalism.

I don’t necessarily want to be the next Campbell Brown anymore. I want to be my own journalist and make my own name for myself. But it’s pretty darn remarkable how when I was 13, I picked out a broadcast journalist and decided she was my role model, and six years later, it turns out the types of stories she did are the types of stories I hope to do. Funny how that works.

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From → Sophomore

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