Writing on the Stahl: A Review of Lesley Stahl’s Speech at Fairfield University

Whether she was referring to presidential candidates slipping in the polls or the advice her mother gave her after a rough day early on in her career, renowned broadcast journalist Lesley Stahl expressed her firmness in the belief that no situation is a truly lost cause.

During the speech she gave at the Quick Center on Fairfield University’s campus last night, Stahl addressed a wide array of topics ranging anywhere from politics and modern journalism to her personal life and how it has coincided with her career throughout the years.

Stahl talked about how she got her start in journalism, a start that she said came later than it does for most journalists, seeing as she was 30 years old by the time she was hired for her first job.  

“I think my story should give a lot of young people who don’t know what they want to do hope,” Stahl said. “I know a lot of kids who search for a long time and there’s nothing wrong with it. You have to find it, though. And if it takes you a little longer, so what?”

When Stahl graduated from Wheaton College with honors in 1963, she went on to attend graduate school at Columbia, where she thought she would pursue a degree in zoology. It was during her mid-twenties while working on New York City Mayor John Lindsay’s speech-writing team that she realized she wanted to pursue a career as a journalist.

When talking about the moment when she discovered that journalism was her true calling she described it as, “…a thunder bolt. I just plain knew.”

She ended up getting hired by CBS around the time when affirmative action started being enforced. As a rookie reporter, she caught her first big break after being assigned what would eventually become one of the most newsworthy stories of all time, the Watergate scandal.

After establishing her reputation as an exemplary reporter, Stahl started to ascend the ranks of CBS, most recently and famously as the co-editor and host of the popular news show 60 Minutes.

Stahl has received many accolades throughout the years including several Emmy awards for her work on the CBS programs 60 Minutes and Face the Nation, the Fred Friendly First Amendment Award, the Edward R. Murrow Award for Overall Excellence in Television and the esteemed Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Journalism Award.

Regardless of the fact that it took Stahl a little bit longer to figure out which career was right for her, she made it clear to the audience that she made the right choice.

Just before the audience started their final applause of Lesley Stahl, her last line of the night was, “I love my job… Love it.”