COMMENTARY | When Meredith Viera announced Monday she would be leaving “Today” on NBC, her statement was immediately followed by word she would be replaced by long-time “Today” news anchor Ann Curry, reports the Associated Press.
Viera said she was leaving to spend more time with family, an understandable and worthy reason. She will continue in some capacity with NBC, just not doing a daily morning show.
I’m not a person who watches “Today” frequently, although I do from time to time. I am more familiar with Ann Curry’s reporting. She has done some work that makes her stand out, and should bring a level of commitment to humanitarian causes that can only help bring the issues to viewers’ attention.
Just as fellow NBC and MSNBC journalist Richard Engel has distinguished himself as a war reporter, Curry has stood out when it comes to covering humanitarian crises and disasters. Curry doesn’t just show the pictures and read copy; she fleshes out stories that give humanity to the reality around her.
When she went to Sudan and Darfur with George Clooney, the special “Winds Of War: George Clooney In Sudan,” was moving in its coverage of the situation in Sudan as well as what motivated Clooney to become involved.
“For what may be the first time in history, our cameras aimed to document a war of potential atrocities, possibly even genocide, as it unfolded in real time,” Curry said to Inside Dateline. “No one is more serious, or as clued in to the potential risks in Sudan as George Clooney; not only as an actor, but as a human rights activist. This ‘Dateline’ hour offers a rare glimpse of the real world, and of a man who cares honestly about these people who have no voice, except the one he gives them.”
Another time, we remember her challenging Rick Warren, the evangelical leader whose controversial views drew fire when he was selected to give the invocation at President Barack Obama’s inauguration.
When he pressed his anti-gay philosophy and said he would not change his mind even if science proved becoming homosexual was completely biological, Warren was met with a strong “Why?” The fact that Curry took what was likely expected by Warren to be a fairly softball interview and used it to show his bias so strongly deserves credit. See a clip here.
Another reason I’m a fan of Curry is that she graduated from Ashland High School, located in a small Oregon town where I also lived for two years. Curry began her reporting career in nearby Medford, becoming the first female reporter for station KTVL. Curry started as an intern there in 1978.
According to “Today,” Curry has earned five Emmys Awards, four Golden Mikes, several Associated Press Certificates of Excellence, three Gracie Allen Awards, and an award for Excellence in Reporting from the NAACP. She has received numerous other awards, including the Simon Wiesenthal Medal of Valor for her reporting in Darfur.
She went on to Portland flagship station KGW, also working in Los Angeles and Chicago before New York. Hopefully, taking the co-host role on “Today” will not keep her from covering world crises, but give her more opportunity to showcase stories.