International investigative journalist, Oprah Winfrey Show correspondent and USC graduate Lisa Ling will speak to students tonight, sharing stories from her career, which has sent her all over the world to reveal unknown and often controversial stories to the American public.
Ling’s appearance is sponsored by the Women’s Student Assembly and will be held at 7:30 p.m. in SGM 123.
Berit Elam, executive director of the WSA, said the group chose to bring Ling to campus because it feel that hearing about Ling’s experiences will influence students in a positive way.
“She is a really excellent example of a woman working in a challenging field,” Elam said. “She’s not afraid to be empowered with the way she approaches her job.”
Ling’s career took off at the age of 16, when she was selected to be one of four hosts on Scratch, a nationally syndicated teen magazine show based in Sacramento.
Only two years later, Ling became a reporter for Channel One News; the job gave her the opportunity to cover stories like the war in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan. While working for Channel One, she gave reports from more than 20 countries, but still found time to attend and graduate from USC.
In 1999, Ling became a host on The View, which has received multiple Emmy nominations for outstanding talk show.
She left the show in 2002, however, to resume her international reporting career.
In 2002, Ling became the first female host of National Geographic Explorer. With National Geographic, she has covered controversial stories such as the drug war in Colombia, notorious gangs and U.S. prison culture
But some of Ling’s most famous stories came after she took a job as a special correspondent for The Oprah Winfrey Show. As an investigative reporter for the show, Ling gave reports on issues such as gang rape in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and bride burning in India.
“Her whole career has been devoted to revealing cases of female disparity and other mistreatment of humans throughout the world,” Elam said. “She tries to highlight things that aren’t brought to America’s attention very often and that we may not even know about.”
Elam said she thinks Ling will appeal to students for several reasons.
“She is a very strong speaker; she really relates to the audience and she has such amazing stories to tell,” Elam said. “Her whole job is being able to share the powerful things she has learned, so I know it will definitely be a captivating event.”
Many students said they are excited that Ling is coming to campus and are planning to attend the event.
“I loved her work on The View,” said Tricia Dong, a sophomore majoring in international relations (global business). “She always had a lot of good points that made me think. I would definitely go to this event because I think that she is an influential woman in the broadcasting industry.”
Nikki Nathan, a sophomore majoring in economics and math, echoed Dong’s enthusiasm.
“She’s really interesting. I see her on Oprah a lot and she has a bunch of cool projects. I think she would be a fascinating person to go watch,” Nathan said.
Some students said they are also interested in hearing Ling talk about her sister, Laura, who was detained in North Korea with fellow journalist Euna Lee. The two were working on a story about female trafficking there in March 2009 when they were arrested and convicted on charges of illegally entering North Korea.
After talks between former President Bill Clinton and Korean leader Kim Jong Il, the two journalists were released in August 2009. During and after this ordeal, Ling helped raise public awareness for Laura’s situation and also served as her sister’s moral support.
“I would be interested to see if she would talk about her sister’s situation after she was arrested in North Korea,” Nathan said.
Elam said that she expects the event, which the WSA has been planning since before winter break, to be filled to capacity.
Some students, however, said their workloads this week will make attending the event a challenge.
“I’ve heard of her, but to be honest, I probably wouldn’t go. This is a really busy week for me,” said Nick Palacio, a sophomore majoring in English.