NEW YORK – Norah O’Donnell has seen a lot during her career, including sexual assault in the military, the Las Vegas mass shooting, and interviews with world leaders. Yet, the CBS Evening News anchor says she’s “never covered a year in my entire journalistic career like this last year.”
From the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic and George Floyd protests around the world to the contested 2020 presidential election and last week’s storming of the U.S. Capitol by insurgents, O’Donnell says “journalism is more important than ever.”
“There’s a thirst for information because there’s so much going on in the world,” O’Donnell said.
The Emmy-winning anchor credits her parents, who stressed education and the power of information -- reading newspapers, magazines and watching television news -- for her career path.
“They revered the truth. And so, I think that’s probably what led me into journalism, is that I believe information is power and the truth is powerful,” she said.
But the roots go deeper as O’Donnell, featured on the PBS series, “Finding Your Roots,” was surprised to learn from host Henry Louis Gates Jr. of her great grandmother’s exploits protecting worker’s rights in a test case under a new British law after her husband was killed in a mining accident. She helped take on Scottish company Holmes Oil, and was awarded workers compensation for his death in the first decision of its kind.
“We all wonder who we are, where we came from, what were our ancestors that we didn’t know,” she said.
Recently, O’Donnell spoke to The Associated Press. Remarks have been edited for clarity and brevity.