Last Monday night, January 28th, the Marist community was given the opportunity to hear from one of the leading journalists in the country, Jake Tapper. Even though classes had been cancelled since 3:30 and the roads were covered in ice, Mr. Tapper was welcomed to Marist with a packed Nelly Golleti theater of both Marist students and professors, as well as members of the general public around Poughkeepsie (the event was open to the public).
Tapper, former Chief White House Correspondent for ABC News, was recently hired by CNN to become the lead anchor for his own show airing in the afternoon at an unspecified time. Tapper, whose flight was cancelled, forcing him to drive up from LaGuardia Airport, came to Marist to talk about his recent book “The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor,” detailing the heroic, yet tragic story of a remote American Combat outpost located in the Nuristan Province of Afghanistan near the Pakistan border.
Tapper spoke for close to 30 minutes about the book itself and the difficult process he went through in order to try find a way to get this story out to the general public. He told those whose attended “I began to write ‘The Outpost’ when he didn’t understand the war in Afghanistan from the ground.” For an aspiring journalist, listening to one of the professions biggest and rising stars was very rewarding opportunity. Throughout his 30-minute speech, followed by almost 45-minutes of Q and A, Tapper gave some insights on how to become a truly great journalist.
“I went into journalism because no one was writing about the stories I wanted to read,” Tapper said. “For aspiring journalists, work on sources, convince them of your motives. Then stay true to your original motives.”
Outside of the journalist side of things Tapper also spoke about politics, his career and the war in general in Afghanistan. While he tried to remain neutral in his views about certain topics he asked, one of his answers stuck out to me. When talking about the vulnerability of the outpost – which was put at the bottom of a mountain with high ground surrounding it – Tapper went on to say the following: “We, as a society, are failing in our support for our soldiers – both moral support and equipment.”
Journalism can be a tricky field. Many people associate it with being sneaky – always trying to get the scoop no matter what. As a result people tend to think journalist simply write about all of the bad things happening in our world. We don’t always get those stories that help us restore our faith in society. Those stories are not always as flashy as a sex scandal or an athlete cheating. Tapper demonstrated how journalism can truly shed light on a heroic act by the brave men and women who risk everything so we can live peacefully.
For those who made the trip out on that cold, stormy Monday night, heard a man speak about his values and the people he respects in his life. They heard someone who was put in a position to tell others stories that needed to be told. They heard about the good that can come from journalism.
– Jeff Holmes ’14