The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Robinson 101

Eugene Robinson picked up a phone during his freshman year at the University of Michigan and called his parents. He had to tell them that his architecture degree was just not working out. To his surprise, they were not even mildly upset by the news.

“My Mom just said, ‘I wondered where the architecture thing came from,'” said Robinson.

That phone call began a chain reaction that led Robinson to a career that would take him from the Amazon to the flooded streets of New Orleans to the presidential campaign trail.

Robinson spent his college days working for the campus newspaper, the Michigan Daily. He honed in on a passion for reading and writing that he says, his librarian mother instilled in him. He found internships over the summer, and after graduation, landed a position at the “San Francisco Chronicle.”

In 1980 Robinson moved to D.C. to work for the “Washington Post,” where he still works today. He said one of the things he loves most about his line of work is that the job is never the same two days in a row, and he certainly has the track record to prove it.

From 1988 to 1992, Robinson lived with his wife and son in South America where he did international news coverage for the Post. Though he lived mainly in Buenos Aires, his stories took him as far as remote corners of the Amazon where he lived with the Yanomamo tribe for a week, to a cholera epidemic in Peru.

“You see things you’d never thought you would see,” Robinson said.

Two days after Hurricane Katrina hit, Robinson was in New Orleans. He spoke to men and women waiting to be airlifted out of the destroyed city.

“There were people in a line a mile long carrying their belongings on their back,” Robinson said. “They all had incredible stories- some about how their family made it out, others who didn’t.”

He spent time in a makeshift hospital in the New Orleans airport where he spoke to the injured and the displaced. At the time, he said it was not too emotionally harrowing.

“It wasn’t until after I got home and I stopped sleeping that it hit me,” Robinson said.

Multiple correspondents from the “Washington Post” began losing sleep after returning from New Orleans. Robinson explained that, while the cholera epidemic in Peru was difficult to see, “to see it in the U.S. was profoundly unsettling. If there is a flood of emotion, it always comes afterwards.”

When covering disaster or tragic stories, Robinson said there are three things a journalist needs to remember: getting the story, getting it to the office and getting it there by deadline.

But to Robinson, the main obligation of a journalist, no matter what the story, is to present the truth.

“There are principles of accuracy, honesty and fairness that should apply across the board,” Robinson said.

More to Discover