An Evening with John Quiñones

Sep. 11, 2014

An Evening with John Quiñones

September 11, 2014 – John Quiñones is the co-anchor of ABC newsmagazine Primetime and has been with the network nearly 30 years. He is the sole anchor of the Primetime series “What Would You Do?”- one of the highest rated newsmagazine franchises in recent years. During his tenure, he has reported extensively for ABC News, predominantly serving as a correspondent for Primetime and 20/20.

Quiñones will be on campus at the Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts on Monday, September 22 at 7 p.m. for a free lecture.

Quiñones answered a few questions about his work and offered advice for  current students:

What do you hope to cover during your talk at Webster University?

I plan to talk about my life, growing up on the tough streets of San Antonio, Texas. I was a Mexican-American kid who was born into poverty. I spoke no English, and had to struggle to survive, but I had big dreams and, I pursued them relentlessly. With hard luck, perseverance and a bit of good luck - my dream to someday become a TV journalist came true. I will talk about my life as a reporter covering stories all over the world. And, also, my TV show, "What Would You Do?" - the ultimate reality show.

As the host of “What Would You Do?” you encounter many people who are faced with difficult decisions. Are you ever surprised by the choices people make in these situations?

I am constantly surprised by the choices people make when faced with dilemmas on our show. Just when you think people do not care for one another, an everyday hero steps into the scene and makes all the difference. They do so bravely and confidently and they restore our faith in humanity. It is very inspiring. Also, you never know who will step up to the plate. Often, a big, burly guy with a shaved head and tattoos walks into the scene and, we say to ourselves, "Oh no, he's going to be the racist!" and he turns out to be a teddy bear; but the seemingly sweet, little old lady with the flower in her hat? She turns out to be the meanest person on the planet. You never know.

What has been the most important thing you’ve learned so far about human nature from your journalism career?

I guess it's that most of us have good intentions. We might not always act on them. We might be scared or timid, or intimidated by a situation, but most of us are not un-caring. It just takes a little prodding sometimes to get us to react. The people who are best at that are those who can empathize. It's much easier to feel someone else's pain if you can place yourself in their shoes.

What would you want people to understand about journalists in the media?

It upsets me when viewers lump all media into one huge basket.  People have a tough time differentiating between journalists and commentators. Commentators give their opinions. Reporters pursue the truth and then present the facts as best they can, allowing the reader or viewer to make up their own opinion. Having said that, journalists are not all infallible. We make mistakes sometimes, but the intent is always to educate our audience.

What advice would you give to students who want to begin a career in media?

My advice to budding journalists:  Read much as you can. Watch as many different viewpoints of an issue on television - ABC, CBS, NBC. CNN, Fox News. Watch them all.  Read as many newspapers on-line as possible. Become as informed as possible about all kinds of issues, because as a reporter, you will be called upon to investigate all kinds of stories. Besides, it also makes you a better informed citizen!

An Evening with John Quiñones: Changing Ethics in America is free and open to the public and is sponsored by the Multicultural Center and International Student Affairs at Webster University, the School of Communications Speaker Series, and the Student Activity Fee.

For more information on the event, visit Webster University’s calendar.