Laura Strickler ’95, one of the top investigative journalism producers at the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, has used her liberal arts education advantageously.
Strickler spent her college career highly involved with theater and the Center for Public Service (CPS). Strickler admits “CPS was the most influential component of my Gettysburg education, as it exposed me to different communities and experiences.”
Through CPS, Strickler spent a summer in Jamaica educating children, worked in various DC homeless shelters, and met several individuals who influenced her years after graduation. Strickler’s first job was conducting advocacy for children’s issues, a position she acquired networking with those she met through CPS.
While at Gettysburg College, the sociology major remained up to date with current events and considered ways to solve the problems of the day. While working in children's issues advocacy, Strickler noticed how journalists were able to expose corruption and enrolled at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
After working for a few years on Capitol Hill as a public radio reporter, a former professor called Strickler to say that the CBS Evening News was forming a new investigative team with the network’s Chief Investigative Correspondent, Armen Keteyian. Immediately, Strickler jumped at the opportunity to work with the esteemed network and she has remained with CBS News since.
Strickler describes day-to-day life as “always different, fast paced and addictive.” New stories, spotlights, and breaking news create an exciting and changing environment, with journalists responding to spontaneous events and news topics. In Strickler’s unit with five other investigative producers and Keteyian, the televisions are always tuned into news stations, as the reporters could potentially drop everything to switch focus.
Working in the investigative unit differentiates from general news reporters. “We don’t focus on specifically what happened, but why it happened,” Strickler explains. For instance, while covering the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster, Strickler was required to look back at government reports and inspections, focusing mainly on what was known about the mine prior to the accident.
Currently, Strickler is working on both short-term and long-term stories. Covering the political season, Strickler, along with her team, is following money in the campaigns and investigating the candidates’ backgrounds. Short-term stories include the recent Penn State scandal.
For students aspiring to be news reporters or journalists, Strickler recommends pursuing a strong background in economics: “My one regret is that I never took an economics course in undergrad. Majoring in economics would have undeniably prepared me for my current career. When discussing and analyzing politics, almost all of it centralizes around the current economy. It’s truly a part of every story I write.”
Strickler also advises that students study Mandarin or Arabic, as both languages are the root of many global issues and events.
Becoming involved and gaining writing experience is equally important. “Look at your environment as an investigative opportunity,” Strickler suggests, “and think about how you would cover the relevant issues. Sports and the Greek system are both great examples as they are significant on Gettysburg College campus.”
Proud of her Gettysburg degree, Strickler has been assisting current students gain exposure and experience in the media world. Josh Scheinblum ’11 interned with Strickler working on a story for the network that eventually won an Emmy for Outstanding Investigative Journalism in a Regularly Scheduled Newscast (Strickler pictured above, with her award). With an Emmy in hand and countless priceless experiences, Strickler has turned an interest in public service into an amazing and unique career.
Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.
Article by Libby Conroy, office of communications and marketing intern
Contact: Nikki Rhoads, assistant director of communications, 717.337.6803