On November 15, Chuck Conconi, vice chairman of Qorvis Communications and a veteran print, radio, and television journalist, spoke to Marymount business and communication students about his career, the changing state of journalism, and the importance of public relations for individuals, as well as organizations.
A top journalist on the Washington, D.C, reporting circuit for more than 40 years, he has written for The Washington Post and also served as editor-at-large for Washingtonian Magazine. His reporting responsibilities have ranged from covering the civil rights movement and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to writing the Personalities column for the Post.
Noting how journalism has changed over the course of his career, he says, “I’m a mastodon. …When I started, newspapers were the heart and soul of reporting, and it was a time when papers had large staffs. Reading the paper was how people got their news, and they could expect it to be fair and accurate.”
Conconi said, “I’m a proud member of the Fourth Estate, and I consider it my role to be the people’s representative, especially when dealing with the government, and my responsibility is to report comprehensively and honestly. Now people blog, tweet, or beat a story to death on cable news that may represent only one side of the story.”
Still, he thinks that the current state of news-gathering and its delivery is in a transition period, and that reporting will go back to news that can be relied on and trusted. His advice to all college students is to develop good writing and communication skills that will serve them well in any career path. He emphasized, “The best way to develop as a writer is to read. Develop a love for words. I compare writing to a great master mason building an intricate wall. And, when you write, be careful what you write – it’s going to live forever.”
In his role as a public relations expert, Conconi gave much the same counsel: “Tell the whole truth and think before you speak.” Commenting on recent high profile scandals, his advice is to be upfront, admit the mistake, and take the consequences. He says, “If you tell the truth, it goes away faster.” He added, “You have to learn how to react when a camera is stuck in your face. You need to think and not rush out with an answer. And, above all, you have to be honest.”
1. Karen Vahouny Mondloch, adjunct professor in Organizational Communication, introduces Chuck Conconi.
2. Chuck Conconi talks with Marymount student Timo Klotz, M.S. in Information Technology '13.
3. Chuck Conconi chats with MU student and staff. L to R: Chuck Conconi; Doug Rogers, M.A. in Human Resource Management '15; Dr. Catherine England,associate dean, School of Business Administration; and David Pomeroy, director of Business Learning and adjunct professor of Economics.