Friday, September 9, 2016

90 Minutes with Stephen Henderson

Victoria Pishkula

As an aspiring, young journalist sitting a few feet from a Pulitzer Prize winner was a spectacular experience. In a short hour-long interview, followed by a question and answer session, I had the opportunity to learn about the thrill of winning a Pulitzer Price and had a direct view on issues that Detroit faces.

Pulitzer Prize Pride

Henderson, as a successful host and writer, has had the opportunity to achieve great success during his journalism career, but the day he discovered he was the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize stands out among many of his other achievements.

He explained that he was in complete shock and ranked it as one of the most important days in his life, along with his wedding day and other life-changing moments.

Issues Among Detroit

Henderson also took it upon himself to give insight to the issues that many Detroit citizens face. Not only does Detroit face financial issues, but they are up against substantially higher crime rates and have large parts of the city that have simply been abandoned.

It was eye opening for me, as a privileged suburban young woman, to be reminded that many parts of the country face such extreme issues. The most startling issue to me was hearing about death rates related to crimes.

Based on research from ABC News about the 10 issues Detroit faces, it takes police near an hour to respond to calls. Also, less than 10 percent of violent crimes are resolved. For these and other reasons, Detroit has the highest crime rate.

Henderson mentioned that in the previous weekend there were multiple deaths related to crime, but when police reported back they felt they had been successful because the numbers, although still high, were lower than the previous year.

To Be Optimistic or Pessimistic 

Another topic that stood out as a main conversation was the struggle between being optimistic or being pessimistic about the future for Detroit.

On one hand, being optimistic seems like the American way. It appears that there is hope from the systematic infrastructure. The way many issues dealing with race are trying to be brought to the surface, challenged, and then improved should be positive perspective.

Unfortunately, as Henderson pointed out, we haven't grown much as far as racism and inequality stands. He referred to the current situations that we are facing as similar to pre-civil war time, although he did mention he doesn't believe we should be worried about a war breaking out.

Politics play a large role in the outcome of how the country, and specifically areas like Detroit, either sail or sink their ship of opportunity to better their financial situations and racial tensions.

The pessimistic viewpoint seems to be a better reality. It is sad, but currently we are still stuck in this cycle that cannot seem to break. It is a day to day reality that there are many controversial issues and situations that haven't been fixed yet.


After hearing about this very different lifestyle, I realized that I really am blind to many of the issues that go on in the world, and I'm privileged to be able to hear about the first-hand experiences that amazing journalists, such as Stephen Henderson, have experienced in their life and in their career.

The '90 Minutes' series at Ohio University is an opportunity for all students to become more well-rounded individuals regardless if they are journalism students or just students who are curious about the issues facing society.

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