If you can’t say something nice about Anne Garrels, then?

NPR’s Anne Garrels gives opening address to AEJMC Attendees on Wednesday, but hits the skids in the final minutes of her talk.

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DENVER– The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication is winding down, only one more day of presentations.  

Between meetings, events, presentations and off-site events, it’s been hard to find time to write anything here on my blog.

But, thinking back over the last three days, I have to say the biggest disappointment was the keynote by NPR’s Anne Garrels.    While she provided some great insights about how her reporting experience has changed in the digital media world,  the end of her speech was not very outstanding.

Maybe it’s because we had higher expectations than we should have of someone who is not a frequent public speaker.

She talked about the technological shifts that she has had to make.

“I’m a neanderthal” were the first words of her keynote address, which was easily the most well-attended events at his convention that draws thousands of journalism educators like myself from around the world.

At least one blogger posted a good summary of her main points.

She explained how “sound has become truly important again”  referencing her work as a correspondent for National Public Radio.

Speaking of sound, I have an audio recording of her address, which I will listen to  listen to and cull for a later, more substantive posting.

Things went downhill

Despite all the great advice she gave at the top of her address, Garrels took a turn about 15 minutes into her address and never seemed to recover.  She started making points, but not finishing them.

Finally after several attempts to re-start, she just admitted that she had lost her place in her prepared remarks.  And, quickly brought things to an end.

Even though we’d like to think we are, all broadcast journalists are not great speakers.

Garrels may have been a tad bit uncomfortable addressing an audience of fellow journalists, now journalism professors.

She may have just been working through some of her ideas in her mind before getting up to speak.

I don’t know.  But, I couldn’t resist pointing out this lowpoint of the AEJMC Conference.

Still, thanks to former CNN Correspondent  Charles Bierbauer (now dean at University of South Carolina) who helped secure Garrels to be our opening speaker, we were exposed to a less stellar side of a stellar international correspondent.

I want to write more about what she did say– perhaps in a day or so after the hectic days of the conference are behind me.

Author: George Daniels

George L. Daniels is an associate professor of journalism at the University of Alabama. After spending eight years in the local television newsroom working as a producer at stations in Richmond, Virginia; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Atlanta, Georgia, Daniels moved from the newsroom to the classroom. He’s conducted research on diversity issues in the media workplace and change in the television newsroom as well as media convergence. Before going to work in television news, Daniels worked briefly as a freelance writer for The Richmond Free Press in his hometown of Richmond, Va.

1 thought on “If you can’t say something nice about Anne Garrels, then?”

  1. I think you’re being too hard on Anne Garrels. She was informative and candid. We learned about both the reporting and living experience behind her professional and courageous NPR reporting from Baghdad and Afghanistan. When I think of all the convention keynote speakers I’ve heard, I wouldn’t give most high assessment for their speeches. As you note in your blog, many of those invited to speak are asked because of other skills sets than public speaking. So what we are listening for is what they have to say — beyond how they may be presenting it. I also think that her speech would have been a soul-searching experience for her — both preparing for the speech and presenting it. She told of her house manager who was kidnapped and raped and how she had to negotiate his release and his ability to leave the country for safety. She told of interviews with political prisoners who had been tortured. From reading “Naked in Baghdad,” I know she was often in fear for her own life. So I considered her speech to be one of the AEJMC conference highlights for me.

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