Emmy® award-winning journalist Byron Pitts converses at Open VISIONS Forum at Fairfield University’s Quick Center for the Arts February 23



Image: Byron PittsCBS journalist Byron Pitts shares his expertise and insights on life, the state of journalism today and perseverance at Fairfield University's Open VISIONS Forum (OVF) on Wednesday, Feb. 23 at 8 p.m. at the Quick Center for the Arts. Tickets are $45. Open VISIONS Forum is an Arts & Minds presentation.

Joining Pitts onstage will be Dr. Philip Eliasoph, director of OVF, Dr. Michael Serazio, assistant professor of communication, and two Fairfield University students of media. The event is sponsored in part by Charter Oak Insurance and Financial Services Co.

Mindful of current controversy regarding journalistic standards and professionalism, Serazio welcomed the illumination Pitts' professional viewpoint will bring to the conversation: "At a precarious moment in the fate of journalism, Byron Pitts brings first-hand insight and expertise from two of its most venerable institutions, CBS News and 60 Minutes. His inspirational personal story of overcoming long odds to achieve distinguished reportorial success might buoy our faith in a profession and industry facing its own dire challenges."

Known for his thought-provoking coverage and his commitment to exceptional storytelling, Pitts is a multiple Emmy® award winning journalist. As chief national correspondent for CBS Evening News With Katie Couric Pitts was an embedded reporter covering the Iraq War and was recognized for his work under fire. He was also CBS' lead correspondent at Ground Zero immediately following the September 11th attacks and won an Emmy for his coverage. Couric said of her colleague, "It seems unimaginable that someone of Byron's intelligence and elegance could have faced so many struggles as a young man. No wonder he is such an inspired storyteller - his own story is inspiring."

Raised by a single mother in a working class neighborhood in Baltimore, Pitts was illiterate until the age of twelve and had a persistent stutter." His focus sharpened by a desire to play football and an ultimatum by his mother, Pitts learned to read and went on to attend Ohio Wesleyan University. With the help of his roommate and a college professor, Pitts found the support and encouragement necessary to pursue a career in broadcast journalism - a field that demands excellence in writing and speaking.

His dream to be part of the 60 Minutes team went back to high school. Inspired by the legendary journalist Ed Bradley, Pitts got into the business because he saw Bradley on TV. "For me, 60 Minutes is to broadcast journalism what the Yankees are to baseball: It's the gold standard."

Pitts honed his skills in other cities before coming to New York and a 1999 piece he did for CBS Evening News about a Marine who died after military doctors misdiagnosed a melanoma, attracted attention as an example of the emotion of his work. "There are things that I have been blessed with the capacity to do well, a complicated story told simply and told well," Pitts told the Daily News. The Marine story was "a story about the human condition ... We treated the military, the Marine's family and ... his legacy with respect."

Pitts keeps his focus tight. When asked about being a role model for future generations, he says simply, "I spend the bulk of my time just trying to do the best I can do."

Tickets are available at fairfield.edu/quick or by calling the Box Office at (203) 254-4010. The toll free number is 1-877-ARTS-396. Special offers and discounts are available through the Quick Center's e-mail list. Join by sending an e-mail to the boxoffice@quickcenter.com. In addition, become a fan of the Quick Center for the Arts on Facebook. Keep up-to-date with the latest performance news, plus special offers and discounts. Find the Quick Center at www.facebook.com/FairfieldQuickCenter.

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Media Contact: Joan Grant, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, jgrant@fairfield.edu

Posted on February 4, 2011

Vol. 43, No. 192