CNN Correspondent Omar Jimenez spoke with students in Professor Mary Snow’s MEDPL 283: News Video Reporting class in September, sharing his story of becoming a network correspondent within five years of graduating from college.
Most students were familiar with Jimenez before his virtual visit. Back in May, he became the subject of worldwide headlines as law enforcement targeted journalists at protests. Jimenez and his CNN crew were arrested on live television in Minneapolis while covering events following George Floyd’s death. Jimenez talked about that “awful” experience and described returning to work immediately after being released from police custody.
That strong work ethic and his determination to tell meaningful stories have been evident since Jimenez was a student journalist at Northwestern University. As he spoke about his storytelling, he shared a lesson he learned at Northwestern that he described as a “switch” in how to approach stories. He asked himself this question: “What can I do now that will still matter three or four months from now?” That prompted him to expand his stories beyond campus and led him to follow up on reports that the terrorist organization ISIS was looking to recruit college students. He landed an interview with an FBI agent and produced a story that really did matter. Jimenez encouraged students to reach out to all sources—even those you assume won’t talk to you just because you are a college student.
On a personal note, he also encouraged students to lean into their differences and stress why those differences make you valuable in the workforce.