CNN Reporter John King Speaks With Students
June 5, 2007
CNN Chief National Correspondent John King spoke this morning with 15 Saint Anselm College students assisting the network with debate preparations. The informal conversation covered everything from how King broke into TV journalism to his work covering six presidential elections and reporting from south Asia following the 2004 tsunami.
King explained the importance of getting outside of Washington and New York and visiting small-town America to get the real perspective on the issues. “The best thing you can do whether you want to cover city hall or the White House is to go visit a community you’ve never been to before and sit in the back seat of a school committee meeting and listen… that’s where the issues that matter are discussed,” said King.
On the current front loading of the presidential primaries, King thinks a spread out system of primaries is better for the country and for the two political parties. “There is a balance that can preserve and protect Iowa and New Hampshire and the charm at the beginning of the calendar and bring some of the [other states] up. How to rotate or regulate that is the hard part.”
King discussed how TV journalists in his position have to always be mindful of the information they are reporting. “If you are talking about stuff that is sensitive, you will, in the course of your speaking, move financial markets,” he said, recounting a specific instance where he was reporting from the lawn of the White House following the resignation of President Clinton’s Treasury Secretary Robert Rubins in July 1999.
TV is an entirely different medium than print. It’s in many cases radio, since people are going about their daily lives and listening rather than watching. On TV, you need to get people’s attention.
“An average TV live shot is about a minute and a half, so the pictures have to complement what I’m saying. I’ve got to get you to watch, so I need a line or two at the top that makes you stop what you are doing and look at the TV.” said King.
“You get one shot, so you better choose your words carefully.”
For the complete conversation in its entirely, click on the audio file included with this post.