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Hot Topics Two “top 25 rankings”Student earns ‘five minutes of fame’

Winter 2005 • Volume 11, Issue 1

BU student earns ‘five minutes of fame’
on CBS Evening News

by Nancy Ridgeway

Image of Ann Eliason being interviewed by CBSThe November 2 presidential election brought many issues to the forefront, and people of all ages had very strong opinions. The staff of CBS Evening News sought out individuals’ opinions in a weekly segment called “What Does It Mean To You?” The September 23 segment on Social Security reform featured Ann Eliason ’06.

This summer, Eliason e-mailed a letter to the editor of her local newspaper in response to a story about Social Security reform. Eliason says, “None of the politicians are doing anything, because it’s not affecting them like it will the younger generation. There isn’t a sense of urgency, because the implications are far off, but we need Social Security reform.”

The letter appeared in the June 19 edition of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “I was surprised when they printed it two days later and even more surprised when CBS Evening News called.”
Explaining her interest in the subject, Eliason says, “For one of my speech communication courses, I had to do a persuasive speech. Mine was on Social Security reform. I explained the situation. My main premise was that Social Security wouldn’t exist by the time my generation is eligible. I discussed options: to increase taxes, to cut benefits, or to implement some sort of privatization. From there, I talked about how I believed privatizing would be best. I don’t think we should have complete privatization, because the basis of Social Security is to have funding for those unable to work. But I do think we need to make it a little more personalized with some sort of options.”

Charlie Brooks, the CBS News producer for the segment with Eliason, says staff members use search engines on the Internet to find individuals with strong feelings on issues in the campaign. Brooks says, “We’re trying to cover all the primary issues and see how voters feel. We take a look through the eyes of individuals.”

Eliason’s letter prompted a CBS producer in New York to contact Eliason for the news segment. She first contacted Eliason sometime around the Fourth of July. Eliason says, “Somehow, they got my Dad’s work number, and he called to tell me about it.”

An initial interview at her home fell through.However, as she prepared to head back to Bradley for the fall semester, someone from CBS Evening News contacted her again and began making arrangements to come to Bradley for the interview.

The CBS camera crew spent nearly an entire day with Eliason, in the classroom, at her job with the Bradley Admissions office, and on the quad. Brooks and CBS correspondent Cynthia Bowers arrived mid-day to do the interview. The news segment, which aired a couple weeks after the interview, spotlighted the views of both presidential candidates and touched briefly upon Eliason’s views.

She concludes, “The whole experience was something not many get to have. To be able to share my opinions and my interests with a CBS news reporter was pretty interesting.”