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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Amara Sohn

Class of 2003, Bachelor's

Amara Walker is an anchor for CNN International based at the network’s global headquarters in Atlanta.

Since joining CNN earlier this year, she has covered several major international breaking news events. Most recently she anchored live coverage of the South Korea ferry disaster, the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, the historic double canonization of John XXIII and John Paul II and the referendum in Crimea, which led to Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian region. Walker was also live on the air as security forces stormed Kiev’s Independence Square, where demonstrators had been gathered for weeks.

Walker previously served as a weekend evening news anchor and general assignment reporter at WFLD in Chicago. While there, she reported on the 2012 U.S. presidential election from President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign headquarters. She also covered the Chicago teachers’ strike that shut down the public school system for eight days. In addition, she contributed numerous reports on the violence plaguing the south side of Chicago.

Prior to Chicago, Walker spent seven years at WTVJ in Miami as a weekend evening news anchor and general assignment reporter. During her time there, she reported on major national and international stories including the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden, the 2012 Florida Republican primary, the 2006 NBA championship and the 2010 governor’s race in Florida. In the summer of 2005, she reported from New Orleans and Mississippi as Hurricane Katrina was bearing down on the South. After the earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010, Walker traveled to the country to cover the devastation.

Born and raised outside of Los Angeles, Walker graduated Magna Cum Laude with a dual degree in political science and broadcast journalism from the University of Southern California. She speaks conversational Korean and Spanish.


What are the top three skills journalism students should learn in college?:

1.) Listening:  Often times we forget to listen.  A great listener makes a great interviewer....which leads to a better story...and in turn makes you a better journalist. 
2.) Writing:  You can present the best live shots but can you tell a story without simply spewing out the facts?  Its your writing style that will separate you from the rest.  Anyone can list the facts, but are you able to make a mundane event...sound fresh and interesting to your viewers?  You can refer to broadcast writing books for examples of creative writing.  Also, you’d be surprised at how many grammatical errors TV reporters and anchors (including myself) make all the time.  Keep on top of your English.  Do you know when to use nauseated vs. nauseous? Or further vs. farther?
3.) Enterprising:  Its typically the most curious person who’s constantly questioning everything and everyone that digs up fascinating stories or breaks stories.  I admit, I’m guilty of getting lazy and not moving beyond the newspaper’s headlines.  But always push yourself to enterprise your own stories.  Learn to go out into the community, meet people and ask questions.  There are infinite stories out there...that have yet to be uncovered.

What were your duties at ATVN? :

I started on the assignment desk and then did a little bit of everything including shooting, editing, reporting, and anchoring both news and weather. 

How did ATVN prepare you for your career?:

Because ATVN operates almost like a real news station, I felt well prepared for my job.  You’ll find that you probably won’t need training on editing or the news systems when you start your first job. 

What is your advice to aspiring journalists?:

Make it your life.  Being a journalist isn’t just what you do, its WHO you are.  Of course, watch your favorite reporters, try to emulate them, jot down some great lines from memorable packages; always be in learning mode.  The best advice I can give you, read voraciously!  Reading the newspaper is just scratching the surface.  If you read about the latest events in Darfur, Sudan on the front page of the LA Times, but you’re not clear on the background, go buy a book on the history and politics of that troubled region.  Read biographies about people you admire, including news men and women and news makers.  Being well read not only helps you understand the big picture, but it also widens your perspective on the world, and allows you to be an open-minded journalist.  Also, talk to people.  Always be in networking mode to cultivate future stories...and connections for future job openings.  Lastly never give up.  People will tell you all kinds of things, encouraging and discouraging. But it boils down to believing in yourself and in your passion.  And whenever in doubt, remind yourself of your passion. And follow your heart, and go after what you want. It’s not about where you are right now, Its about where you’re headed. 

What should graduates keep in mind when negotiating their first job?:

Try not to sign more than 2 years for your first contract.  Someone once told me, always be on the move, until you’ve made it to your goal destination.

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