Reporters don’t often get calls from the president of the NBC News Division at 5 a.m., Stephanie Gosk ’90 said. However, Gosk, an investigative reporter for NBC News, received such a call to learn about the firing of Matt Lauer, former “Today” show co-host, from NBC due to an inappropriate sexual relationship.
“And I responded, very professionally, ‘Oh shit,’ ” said Gosk.
During this week’s All School Meeting (ASM), Gosk spoke about her experience covering stories around sexual abuse and harassment. Through her stories, Gosk showed how such events impact women in her industry.
Susan Lee ’19 said, “She was ridiculously well-spoken… in navigating an issue that is very sensitive and an issue that causes you to be cautious about language itself. She presented in a way that was understandable to people who are already well-cautioned about their language on sexual misconduct and people who aren’t.”
Back in November, NBC had fired Lauer, a well-known figure in television morning news, for allegations of sexual harassment. Gosk had been assigned to investigate Lauer in the workplace of her own employer, NBC.
Carolyn Song ’21 said that Gosk’s message to students was clear and that focusing on Lauer’s case was a good way to illustrate her point.
“She spent a lot of time talking about this specific case and how it affected her industry at that time and how we should behave as a whole in the workspace. She also said that what she was trying to do is to define what makes [actions] wrong even though they aren’t technically illegal,” she said.
Gosk highlighted the need to prevent sexual misconduct in the workplace, illustrating the toll that power dynamics have on women in her industry. Gosk said that defining boundaries in workplaces is essential to achieve gender equality.
“Imagine a situation where there are two junior-level people, a young woman and a young man. They’ve just started off. They’re cutting their teeth and looking forward to a long career, and the boss is having a sexual relationship with the young woman. Now, she’s an adult, so it’s consensual,” said Gosk.
“Now if this young woman gets the promotion, it will be, as everyone will say, because she’s sleeping with the boss. If she doesn’t get the promotion, she’ll probably think, ‘Oh, it’s because I’m sleeping with the boss.’ The young man, however, is going to be evaluated on his merits. Does he have a future? Is he promising? Does he deserve to have that job?” continued Gosk.
Gosk continued, “Think about what that does to the playing field in the workplace, where we all hope and want to be treated equally and on our merits. Suddenly, this becomes a conversation about equality in the workplace, and how do we make sure that the best people are treated on their merits?”
Gosk also included different anecdotes from her career to illustrate her point, such as reporting on the recent case of Larry Nassar, USA Gymnastics doctor, who was sentenced this Wednesday for possession of child pornography and sexual abuse, according to “The New York Times.” After covering several other stories, Gosk’s beat became reporting on sexual assault and misconduct.
“Sometimes in journalism, you don’t choose the beat, the beat chooses you, and this is a really good example of that. I had covered sexual misconduct in the past… but then it became the focus of what I was doing,” said Gosk.
Many students interviewed said that Gosk’s presentation helped contextualize the stories of the “Weinstein Effect” and drive the importance of standing against pervasive sexual abuse and misconduct home for students at Andover.
Gordon Paiva ’20 said, “She taught us the danger of being ambivalent towards issues of sexual assault using her own personal experiences. I thought her recount of memorable events made the presentation feel very authentic.”