Real Journalism, Really Cool

As an ABC national correspondent based in Chicago, Chris Bury reported for World News, Nightline and Good Morning America. Currently, he’s hosting a weekly public affairs program called “In the Loop” (on WYCC, a PBS affiliate) and freelancing for America Tonight on the Al-Jazeera American network.
As DePaul's senior journalist in residence, Bury teaches “basic boot camp” reporting to freshman, as well as graduate classes in political reporting and storytelling techniques. Here, the winner of six Emmys and two Peabodys shares his perspective about journalism and his enthusiasm for teaching at DePaul.
What’s your take on the importance of journalism?
One of my favorite quotes is from a Chicago writer, Peter Finley Dunne: “Our mission as journalists is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”  I believe journalism makes a difference in our communities, whether a journalist reports on government or politics or crime or the environment. I think that belief ties in well with DePaul’s Vincentian mission, which says that teaching and learning matter.
DePaul Journalism students are lucky to be in Chicago because this city takes its news seriously—it’s a great laboratory for budding journalists. Our students cover beats on the messy process of governing, on homelessness and poverty, on urban issues and development. Here, they do real interviews, real stories, real journalism—and that’s really cool.
How about career opportunities today?
As everyone knows, the profession has been going through a rough patch, and we don’t know what the industry will look like when the dust settles. But journalism is still a fantastic field, and there are still good jobs to be found. In fact, I’d say there might be even more opportunities because of the explosive growth of online publishing, including social media.
Of course, today’s journalist has to do it all: report, write, prepare broadcasts and even edit video. This is the new normal, and our students are being prepared for it; by the time they leave DePaul, they have the skills they need to carve out important careers.
What do you bring, as a practitioner, to the classroom?
Because I’ve had 30 years of experience with ABC News, including 15 years with Nightline in Washington, D.C., I can give our students a very realistic sense of what life is like in professional journalism.
One of my most important jobs is to make sure that our students can write a traditional, declarative sentence. After that, I want to make sure that they can compose a story well. No matter the medium, a journalist still needs to report the facts accurately, still needs to be a good writer, and still needs to know how to tell a story.
Another important contribution I make is contacts: I bring in guest speakers, especially for my graduate classes; we’ve had incredible participation from reporters and writers at the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun Times, Chicago Magazine, and local television stations. I even Skype in pollsters and writers from D.C. for my political reporting class. So, my students are getting exposed to first-rate minds in the field, including one-on-one interactions with people who can offer them internships and jobs.
So, what’s the best part about teaching?
Connecting with a new generation that’s as excited about journalism as I was when I started my career 35 years ago. At the end of the day, I want to make sure that my students have really learned something and that I have played a small part in their future success.

Article and images republished courtesy DePaul Distinctions.