Ann Compton: A 41 Year Career


Julia Wachtel, Contributing Editor

On Wednesday, December 7th, four Nashoba journalists were granted an opportunity to hear a live interview with two established correspondents in the field of politics. The event was held at the JFK Library in Boston, where John Dickerson and Ann Compton sat down to converse about the election and the impact of the media. In discussing Dickerson’s new book, Whistlestop: My Favorite Stories from Presidential Campaign History, both he and Compton spent the first half of the discourse sharing their own thoughts on past elections as well as their extensive experience as political journalists. After a fascinating discussion, the floor was opened to questions from the audience. Members from the crowd probed them about the the way in which the media affected the campaign.

Although the discussion was focused on John Dickerson’s new book and his long respected career, it was Ann Compton who was most impressive. Compton is a strong, independent, journalist who is highly respected and has vast knowledge of her field. As an aspiring female journalist, watching her on stage was a dream come true. She embodies everything a journalist should strive to be: poised and supremely confident, her brilliant language engages the audience and captivates everyone’s attention. It is evident from her speech that she is down to earth and incredibly intelligent. Compton has been a reporter during ten electoral campaigns dating back to the Ford presidency.  She did not let anything keep her from what she aspired to do. During a smaller Q&A held with student journalists ranging over eight schools, she explained that as a woman she has been able to prosper because it made her different from her competitors.

Watching the interview between Anne Compton and John Dickerson was like watching a performance. The two bounced their ideas off each others  and participated in  an insightful conversation about  the election. Many audience members were quite critical of the media’s election coverage and looked to the two seasoned journalist for answers. During the bitter campaign between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the media predicted Clinton as the president elect in an expected win. Trump as the current president elect is still shocking to many politically invested citizens. Compton answered all the questions and moved the event along without a hitch.

Sitting in the first row, I felt a little more than starstruck watching the accomplished correspondents speak about their experiences. It was similar to watching a favorite athlete or band perform. I couldn’t help smiling when Compton looked in my direction and waved, flashing me a bright smile. All I have ever wanted to be was Compton. A strong, independent, journalist who is respected and has  knowledge in her field. After watching every episode of Murphy Brown three times over, it was as if I was watching her in real life. She is the first female journalist to be assigned a television network and the only broadcast reporter aboard Air Force One just hours after the 9/11 terrorist attack.  Her 41 year career is truly remarkable, and she is a role model for young journalists everywhere. Now that she has officially retired, Compton has dedicated her work to teaching the younger generation, reflecting “this is the first year I have not been on the campaign press bus but instead will join students in looking for the big picture in the final 10 weeks of the most unconventional election of my professional lifetime.” Taking a new position in the media, Compton uses her expansive experience in journalism to assist aspiring reporters in the mechanics of politics, leaving the technology for the next generation.