Sept. 29-Acclaimed journalist Lisa Ling, who is known for her indepth international stories on
controversial topics from gang rape in the Congo to bride burning in India as wel as for her stint on the Emmy
Awardwinning talk show The View, lectured Monday evening at the Cox Auditorium at the University of
Tennessee, Knoxvil e.
Ling, who is the host of television's National Geographic Explorer and Who Cares About Girls as well as a
correspondent for The Oprah Winfrey Show, shared stories of events she had covered from her early work as a
journalist for Channel One News to her more recent work for The Oprah Winfrey Show. Ling stressed that people
should empower themselves with knowledge of both local and international news with each story she told, such as
the story of when she realized she had chosen the correct profession: "I exited my Red Cross plane and was met by
Afghani youth with guns larger than they were." Ling also spoke about China's onechild policy, which led to many
displaced baby girls because parents believed a boy would be more able to take care of them in their old age.
"There are two television stations consisting entirely of government propaganda and the internet is not
even fathomable," Ling said when discussing her time in North Korea. "We have almost unlimited information, but
how much do we seek out?" "Because we live in this great country, we have al owed ourselves to become
apathetic ... we are engaged in conflict on so many fronts, but do we know the difference between Shiites and
Ling said much of this problem can be traced back to ratings standards on cable news and network
television which reflect a belief by the media that the American public doesn't care about hard international news.
"I feel like I do better news stories for The National Geographic Explorer, The Oprah Winfrey Show and
The Oxygen Network and they are nonnews networks, which is kind of a sad commentary on the state of the news
industry," Ling said.
Lisa Ling/Eddie Jenkins/2
While Ling worked for The View she faced this problem when pitching stories in production meetings.
"Nice try, Lis, but Americans just don't care what is going on in the world," Ling said when quoting the
response of her col eagues at The View when she pitched international news stories. "I knew that wasn't true."
After leaving The View, Ling became the first female of host of National Geographic Explorer and an
investigative reporter for The Oprah Winfrey Show. On the same episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show she proved
her former colleagues wrong when her story on gang rape in the Congo drew a larger audience than Matt Damon
by 500,000 viewers.
Covering emotional y charged stories like this has tested Ling and her faith in God at times, but her
husband, Chicagobased radiation oncologist Paul Song, helped to lift her spirits when he sent her a poem from
"Chicken Soup for the Soul" entitled "Why." In the poem someone asks God why he permits a young girl to suffer
so much and why he doesn't do something about it, to which God replies, "I certainly did something about it ... I
"The reason I continue to do this work is because it is enlightening on one hand, and I have had the
chance to come face to face with some empowering stories," Ling said when speaking about China's onechild
Ling left the audience with a charge to empower themselves and urged them to become more informed
by seeking out stories from around the world.
"I close with something Oprah told me once, "Now that you know, you can't pretend that you don't.""
This event was cosponsored by the University of Tennessee's Issues Committee, Central Programming
Council (CPC) and the Asian American Student Association.
(c) Copyright 2009 Tennessee Journalist