Blue Runs Deep: Alumni Panelists Share Journalism Career Highlights

Students and parents gathered via Zoom with alumni panelists Jonathan Alter ’75, David Ensor ’69, Gary Lee ’74, Alexandra MacCallum ’99, and Priya Sridhar ’03 to discuss their careers in journalism. As a part of the Blue Runs Deep Series, the panel—hosted on Monday night—provided an opportunity for conversations between Andover students and alumni specialists in specific career paths. The Student Alumni Representatives (STARs) hosted and facilitated a Q&A session during the panel. 

Sridhar, an Emmy-winning political reporter and host of “Politically Speaking,” spoke on her introduction to journalism through the military. She believed that her experience in the U.S. Navy provided new insights for her later career in journalism. 

“I went through the process of trying to become a Foreign Service Officer or a diplomat in the State Department… and I was fully accepted into the State Department. Then the ‘Associated Press’ called and offered me a job… I thought to myself, ‘News has always been my first love, so I’m going to go with the [Associated Press] job’. Then I heard about a direct commission officer program in the Navy. I thought, ‘That sounds completely bananas, but let me give it a shot. I have a feeling that if I don’t pursue this, I’m gonna regret it for some reason.’ There were so many things about it that aligned with my interests… all of the same things that drew me to journalism,” said Sridhar.

Ensor, a network television and radio journalist, U.S. Diplomat, businessman, and Federal Official, reflected upon his experience as a foreign correspondent. He highlighted the importance of journalism in dangerous situations such as war zones.  

“You don’t go looking for trouble. You’ve got a story to cover. I remember being assigned to Moscow. No sooner did I get there, there was a war in Chechnya. I had thought I would be covering criminology, but no, I was covering a war in Chechnya. I also covered the war in Bosnia. I covered the Civil War in El Salvador. I once covered the withdrawal of the Soviet troops from Afghanistan, and I was writing in a tank on the way from Jalalabad to Kabul. That’s the journalism business: you can find yourself in unusual and sometimes dangerous places. You are covering important events in human history. Sometimes that’s very dangerous work. I mean, I’m kind of glad not to be dodging bullets for a living now,” said Ensor.

Ensor continued, “I remember after I was out of Chechnya I was on [the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) News show] Nightline with Ted Koppel. We had shown him some really hair-raising video the cameraman had taken under extraordinary conditions, and he said to me on the air ‘So David, what are you doing there anyway? Why are you doing this?’ I tried to answer it by saying, ‘Look, you may think this is a little war far away from our country, but what happens in Russia matters. And this is going to matter.’ Now as I look at it in 2022, it was the war where we saw just how inhumane the Russian army could be,” said Ensor.

Max Huang ’24, an attendee of the panel, was impressed by the panelist’s variety of experiences. He articulated the importance of forming relationships and active participation as a part of journalism. 

“I think it was just really cool to see how people that went to the same school and were writing for The Phillipian and doing the same thing as us students have gone on to work for these really large corporations that we read every day. So, my takeaway is just trying to be as involved as possible, because of two reasons: one is because it’s always good to get practice for real life, and another important thing is connections. And the panelists all talk about how their connections both within the school, or within other programs that they work with, allowed them to get better resources later on. In general, the Blue Runs Deep events are really cool because they just get to show the students how past alumni have gone on to do really incredible things.” said Huang.