I had the opportunity to conduct a very short interview with Kitty Pilgrim former CNN anchor before she left on an extended trip overseas. You might remember her from her last assignment working with Lou Dobbs on CNN’s “Your Money”.
She declined to comment on questions concerning her CNN coworkers stating it was a “matter of policy” but answered the following questions that concerned her experience at CNN and her new career as a fiction novelist.
Dennis Brady : Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview I know you are busy preparing for your trip on Sunday , This interview will run on my site “BradyReports.com” and possibly the “Revered Review” in which I am a contributing blogger.
First question: When you were growing up which persons who were the biggest influences in your life?
Kitty Pilgrim: My mother was a world traveler and I grew up discussing all kinds of place at the dinner table every night, China, Europe, Africa…It made the want to see the world.
Dennis Brady: I guess we can start at the beginning, You have a background in International Affairs from Columbia University what made you choose a Journalism career instead of working for the Federal Government, Academia or some foreign policy think tank or private industry, and How did you first get to work for CNN ?
Kitty Pilgrim: I was working at a graduate intern for the US Mission to the European Community in Brussels and looked up and saw CNN on the monitor in the commissary. It was a very new network at the time, but very influential with policy makers because of the first hand reporting. I immediately decided to go back to New York and apply for a job.
Dennis Brady–How difficult was the transition from being a writer /producer (Money Line/Inside Business ) to being in front of the camera as an anchor (CNN Shows: Early Edition/Your Money) ?
Kitty Pilgrim: In the early days there was not a lot of job distinction. I worked at a booker, writer, producer, researcher, field producer. I was writing news packages for other people to track. It was a very natural transition to start to “voice” the things I had been writing all along.
Dennis Brady: How much editorial freedom did CNN give you?
Kitty Pilgrim: Total
Dennis Brady: Were you ever asked to “spike” a story?
Kitty Pilgrim: Never!
Dennis Brady: What are your feelings on leaving CNN and TV news in general?
Kitty PiIgrim: I still consider myself a journalist, as well as a writer. CNN was a great home for 24 years and a wonderful place to work. I can’t say I have left the industry for good. I am simply trying my hand at writing novels for a while.
Dennis Brady :There have been charges from conservatives and in my case some on the libertarian side of the fence that what is called the mainstream media including CNN is biased in it reporting. What are your feelings about this?
Kitty Pilgrim: This question is too broad to answer with any degree of precision. I simply cannot generalize about media. Each outlet has their own track record.
Dennis Brady:What are your feelings about the new media (I.E. the Internet, Fox News and talk radio) ?
Kitty Pilgrim: Freedom of expression is important in society. You don’t have to agree with every outlet. The internet, twitter, all kinds of social interaction now serves to inform the public in different ways. It is up to the responsible individual to decide what is quality and what is not.
Dennis Brady: What is your outlook for CNN and the other 24 hour cable news outlets, do you think we are getting to the point of saturation of news coverage?
Kitty Pilgrim I think news reporting with change in the future. As more people get their news from on line sources, the broadcast industry will change. We are already seeing a lot of new approaches to delivering news. It is a fluid situation. There is no such thing at too much information. Its up to the individual to decide how much they would like to view.
Dennis Brady: How has the 24 hour news cycle in your opinion affect the quality of news coverage ?
Kitty Pilgrim: It has broadened the number of topics that can be written about. I see it as a positive. Thank goodness the days of a half hour broadcast a day are over! The world is bigger and more complex than that.
Dennis Brady: Does this fast cycle cause the degrading of the confirmation of sources?
Kitty Pilgrim:Not with reputable organizations it doesn’t
Dennis Brady: Can the broadcast network news divisions at CBS, ABC, NBC or newspapers continue to survive in the cable and digital environment ?
Kitty Pilgrim: that is a business question I don’t feel qualified to answer.
Dennis Brady: I read you have an association with the Council of Foreign Relations, can you describe this and your contribution to that organization?
Kitty Pilgrim: It is nonpartisan, independent think tank founded in 1921 with offices in New York and Washington. Meeting subject range from domestic policy to international relations. I often attend meetings on Asia, Europe, Russia and US domestic policy.
Dennis Brady: Now for your new career- Was becoming a fiction writer something you always thought about doing or did the idea come to you later in your life?
Kitty Pilgrim: I wrote THE EXPLORER’S CODE on a whim, and managed to get it published. It was a complete surprise!
Dennis Brady: Describe the process for writing your fiction book series “the Explorer’s code” and how did you come upon the story line?
Kitty Pilgrim: I had a deep interest in the competition for arctic territory and thought it would make a good plotline for a thriller. I had visited arctic Svalbard about twelve years ago and thought it would be a great place to set a novel.
Dennis Brady: Is there anything you would like to tell your fans about your personal life and family?
Kitty Pilgrim: I have two grown sons William and Beau, and was a single mom for many decades.
Dennis Brady: Would you like to get back into Television Journalism at some point in the future or would you consider trying to have some type of role in politics?
Kitty Pilgrim: Interesting question. I am considering a variety of options. I do consider myself a journalist, first and foremost. And I write as easily as I breathe. But I wouldn’t rule out another role for the future. Certainly it will be something international.
Dennis Brady: Any predictions on the future of the country you would like to share?
Kitty Pilgrim: As we all know we have a lot of challenges ahead of us. I have a great faith in the American people to work through problems and find solutions that respect the rights of the individual. It is our tradition.
Dennis Brady: What are your hopes and dreams for your children and for the country ?
Kitty Pilgrim: As a mother, I can only hope that the next generation finds the energy, insight and ability to lead the country into an era of new prosperity and happiness.
Dennis Brady:Kitty thank you so much for your time , best of luck in your future endeavors.
Bio:Kitty Pilgrim worked as a CNN correspondent and news anchor for the past 24 years. Her assignments have taken her around the world and she reported regularly on political and security developments in Russia, China, Venezuela, Cuba, the Middle East, North Korea and South Africa. Her U.S.-based reporting included politics and economics. Pilgrim anchored her own CNN morning show, “Early Edition” in 1998-1999 and was anchor for prime time broadcasts at CNN from 2001-2010. Pilgrim is the recipient of an Overseas Press Club Award, a Peabody Award, An Emmy, and New York Society of Black Journalists Award. She is active in the international policy world as a member of the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations. She is a full member of the historic Explorer’s Club of New York. Kitty has two sons William, age 24 and Beau age 22.