Political journalists inspire GHS students at JFK Library


Maria Kotob

ABC News Corespondent Ann Compton and CBS Political Director John Dickerson discuss the 2016 election at the John F. Kennedy Library

CAROLINE ENOS, Staff Writer, Editor

Despite the bitter turmoil surrounding journalism in the wake of the 2016 presidential election, former Chief Washington Correspondent for ABC News Ann Compton says “Journalism isn’t dead.”

Recently, Gillnetter editors Maria Kotob and Caroline Enos were invited to hear Compton and CBS Political Director John Dickerson speak about the election at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, as a part of the many student journalism opportunities provided by The Boston Globe. 

“It affected my perception of journalism a lot since Ann Compton showed me that I can make a career out of what I love to do,” said Kotob. “These two journalists’ experiences were really inspirational and interesting to hear about.”

Compton and Dickerson promoted journalism as a tool of communication and empowerment, not a means of mass destruction, as it has been labeled over the course of this election.

“[Journalists] have the opportunities to give voice to conflicting opinions,” said Compton to students attending the event. “Keep an open mind, work for what you really love, and don’t take anything for granted as the press did in this election.”

During the discussion, Compton spoke about the logistics of the 2016 election with Dickerson and the role the media had in it.

“The press looked at this election and saw what they thought would happen,” said Compton. “News is what surprises us, so we need to stop reporting on what we think will happen and report on what actually happens.”

The journalists also explained how the trends of John F. Kennedy’s election and presidency were similar to those seen in 2016, in relation to the venue. As Compton said, “History teaches us so much of not only where we were, but where we are, and where we are going.”

“JFK had to prove that he was not just a Catholic, and that he had got what it takes to be president,” said Dickerson.

Trump, however, played to certain stereotypes in order to reel in many of his voters and ultimately secure his win on November 8th.

“Trump is a man with a message,” said Dickerson. “Hillary had trouble defining her message, and also under-performed with Millennials and African Americans. Trump, on the other hand, had a gut-level emotional appeal and Hillary had to break this emotional connection he had with his supporters.”  

Compton also stated that the turmoil surrounding the election was not new.

“Why is it that every election we say, ‘This is the first time an election has been this chaotic, even when we’ve seen a lot of it before?.’”

Dickerson then stressed important messages politicians should remember through the use of a famous JFK quote.

“I spent so much of my time trying to get elected for president that I wish I spent more time talking to people who can help me be President.”

Along with Kennedy’s wisdom, Dickerson and Compton left students with a strong understanding of how to perceive election politics, and journalism as a whole.