Dominican University highlights foreign correspondence and renowned journalist with new initiative

Two Chicago Journalists Association executive board members were among the 200 who packed Dominican University’s Fine Arts Building auditorium to attend the school’s inaugural lecture for the new Georgie Anne Geyer initiative on Monday, Nov. 14.

Dominican University’s journalism department chair, John Jenks (right), moderates a Q & A discussion with journalist Marvin Kalb (center). Photo credit: Stephanie Choporis

The initiative recognizes Geyer’s acclaimed and lengthy career as a journalist, foreign correspondent and syndicated columnist. Some of the goals include emphasizing the importance of foreign correspondence, bringing renowned correspondents to the school and creating learning opportunities for those aspiring to embark on such a career.

The evening’s opening remarks were made by Geralind Kolarik, a Dominican graduate and close friend of Geyer. She is also a CJA member.

Veteran journalist Marvin Kalb was the guest speaker. His distinguished career spans more than three decades and includes award-winning reporting and commentary for both CBS and NBC’s “Meet the Press.” He is presently the Edward R. Murrow professor emeritus at Harvard University and hosts “The Kalb Report” at the National Press Club.

Geyer has made numerous television appearances on “Meet the Press” panels, particularly during presidential elections. Throughout  her long career she has represented  the ‘best’ in journalism,  showing  courage, guts, curiosity and the ability to be a good teacher.

Among her many accomplishments, Geyer was the first Western reporter to gain access to Saddam Hussein and interviewed Juan Peron, Yasser Arafat, Muammar Gaddafi and other world leaders. She takes pride in sharing a foxhole with former Chicago Cubs shortstop and first baseman Ernie Banks.

Kalb emphasized that this is a time when foreign correspondents are most needed and encouraged young journalists interested in such a profession to learn another language. He said reporters are currently viewed as enemies by governments in other countries.

He added that most correspondents are “stringers,” rather than reporters employed by large television and publishing companies. Therefore, if a correspondent gets captured, the media organization won’t be able to offer support, he said.

“The lecture was impressive and shed a light on the dangers many foreign correspondents face daily to bring the news to the public,” said CJA president Allen Rafalson. He noted that his organization has presented the Daniel Pearl Award to 14 war correspondents since 2002. The award is in honor of the late Wall Street Journal Southeast Asian journalist, who was kidnapped and murdered in Karachi, Pakistan in 2001. Geyer was a recipient in 2009.

“I was truly amazed by Geyer and Kalb’s accomplishments during their careers,” said CJA secretary and associate board chairman Stephanie Choporis. I hope the students here tonight will develop the same kind of passion for such important work.”

Geyer received a round of applause as she appeared on stage at the end of the evening and presented Kalb with an autographed baseball signed by the late Banks.