To celebrate 10 years as a named college, the Bob Schieffer College of Communication brought back the ever-popular Schieffer Symposium on the News for one night only. Namesake Bob Schieffer ’59 interviewed a panel of national journalists:
- Peter Baker, chief White House correspondent for The New York Times;
- Margaret Brennan, moderator of “Face the Nation” and chief foreign affairs correspondent for CBS News;
- Susan Glasser, columnist of The New Yorker’s “Letter from Biden’s Washington” column;
- Jeff Pegues, CBS News chief national affairs and justice correspondent;
- Omar Villafranca ’00, CBS News’ Dallas-based correspondent.
During the panel, Brennan took a moment to thank TCU and Schieffer College for producing such talented graduates, giving a shoutout to her producer, journalism alumni, Richard Escobedo ’18.
On The News
The discussion ranged across news topics, including insight into Israel and Ukraine, and a broader conversation about the impact of artificial intelligence and media overload.
However, the panel seemed to have the most fun with Schieffer’s favorite question: “Why did you want to be a journalist?”
“I was either going to be an engineer or a journalist,” said Villafranca, who described himself as an “outdoor cat” in reference to his natural curiosity. “I remember sitting there in an AP physics class with a TI-85 [calculator] and thinking, ‘I never want to hold this thing ever again.’
“I’m looking down and not looking up. I want to be looking up.”
In his introduction, Schieffer ribbed Pegues about once being the ”fastest man in Ohio” based on his sports record before becoming a journalist.
“I realized my junior year in college playing football hurts,” Pegues said. “I just happened to be walking by the TV studio and they were holding auditions. I walked in and auditioned. They said ‘I think you could have a career in this.’ The rest is history.”
Brennan came from a different angle: she graduated with a degree in foreign affairs and Middle Eastern studies. “I knew I wanted to be a diplomat, but I wasn’t sure what a diplomat was.” Instead, she said her inspiration came from her mother, who encouraged her to pursue a career in journalism. “You always complained when you watched the news,” she quoted her mother as saying. Brennan took a chance with an internship at CNN and never looked back.
Glasser said she got it from her father, who wanted to be a journalist but was pressured to become a lawyer. She said that journalism is built for those “if you have that natural curiosity. If you are a lifelong learner. Imagine getting to learn every day.”
Baker said his desire to be a journalist started early, when he was assigned to be the editor of his third-grade class paper. “It was fun!” He never looked back, describing journalism as “magic.” Being a journalist also helped when he was marrying Glasser, whose father was thrilled to have multiple in the family.
All the panelists echoed Schieffer’s sentiment that journalism is one of the most fun jobs you could have. As Schieffer told journalism students during a campus visit last year: “It’s all right to tell people, ‘This is a job where you are going to have a lot of fun … I know why you are here, and it is an important thing, but it is also really fun.’”
A Night to Remember
Following the symposium, guests and panelists gathered on the Creative Commons to celebrate the 10-year naming anniversary of the Bob Schieffer College of Communication. Guests had the opportunity to talk with the panelists, enjoy light refreshments, watch a slide show of Schieffer’s impact at TCU and grab a Schieffer-style gift: purple socks with the Schieffer 10 mark.
Several guests said that they could have listened to Schieffer and the panelists for several more hours, as the conversation was so engaging.