WHDH reporter brings smarts to college students

Jack Drees- 1851 Staff

With 34 Emmys, 10 books, and seven News, Hank Phillipi Ryan has set a standard for aspiring news broadcasters, investigators, and novelists. On Tuesday, March 5, Ryan spoke to students as a COM Day guest.

Ryan took the stage to talk about her journey as a time-changing woman throughout multiple industries. Ryan has reported for various communities through radio and television for almost five decades and has been a published author since 2007.  As a novelist, she has written several titles in two individual franchises. She also has one standalone title currently released to the public, with another due to release in August titled “The Murder List,” now available for preorder.

Growing up, she never dreamed she would have a broadcasting job. Ryan said she “never planned to be a reporter,” but ended up at the Boston-based channel, WHDH, as an investigative reporter.

Ryan grew up in rural Indiana living a nerd-oriented life.  She earned “most individual” in a school yearbook. She also had aspirations to be a mystery author or detective. Ryan even became a Shakespeare major in college. She did not recommend that her audience should take this path.

Ryan described her stance as a game-changer for the news industry, becoming a journalist in 1970 for a radio program in Indianapolis. Her reason for wanting to join: They didn’t have any women. Her journey in the industry has led her to today, as a TV reporter, a job which she has been doing for 43 years.

Some present challenges she faces include thinking about what “the other side” would say, shortening stories for younger generations and forever asking the question, “Am I hurting someone unnecessarily?”

Throughout the presentation, she showcased one of her currently released books, “Trust Me,” and had copies at the ready for anyone who wanted a book signed. Obeying her agent’s wishes, Ryan said, “A signed book makes a great gift.”

Throughout the event, Ryan took opportunities to present advice to the young, eager students in the room. “Just go for it,” she said. “I’m the poster child for following your dreams.” One of her favorite quotes from Winston Churchill reads, “Never never never give up.”

Even with such a quote in mind, Ryan nearly gave up going on air one night after being forced to report on the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. As she set up in the studio in a split-second manner, she said, “I don’t know if I can do this.” To add onto that, she didn’t have much information on the situation, to begin with.

Ryan is also caught in the middle of a current phenomenon when many television viewers are picky and are in constant questioning of their news sources. Her opinion: “There is no ‘the media.’” Although she simultaneously recognizes the responsibilities to be held by those who work in the news and reporting industry, Ryan says the biggest challenge at hand regards how she, like everyone else in the industry, “can never be wrong.”

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