Eric Pierpoint '73, Patricia Adams Pierpoint '47, Kelsey Myers '01 and Ruth Pierpoint Hogg '49.
Robert Pierpoint ’47 was a Bulldog–both as a proud alumnus of the University of Redlands, and as a respected member of the press who covered six presidential administrations for CBS and was known for asking tough questions.
“He was never afraid of being challenged,” his widow, Patricia Adams Pierpoint ’47, said. “His job demanded an open mind.”
Pierpoint’s integrity was remembered Nov. 6 during the inaugural Pierpoint Memorial Lecture in Hall of Letters 100. It was fitting that the night’s speaker, Kelsey Myers ’01, is also with CBS News, working as an editorial producer in Los Angeles. Myers’ speech, “The Importance of Credibility: Journalism in the Digital Age,” brought back memories for the members of the Pierpoint family in the audience, and before Myers began his talk, Pierpoint’s son, Eric ’73, discussed his father and his commitment to getting the facts right.
“Credibility was big in the Pierpoint family,” he said. “The question of credibility was a hit at our dinner table in the 1960s. Dad would ask questions over dinner, and if you didn’t know the facts, you heard about it.”
Pierpoint took his commitment to staying unbiased seriously, but was unable to hide his feelings during the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
“(Walter) Cronkite went live to dad to get an update, and at that time Jacqueline Kennedy walked by covered in blood,” Eric said. “Dad lost it. He couldn’t say anything, he was so emotional. He always regretted that, and we told him, ‘It’s OK. You can’t be that tough.’”
For his presentation, Myers shared photographs, personal documents and videos in a PowerPoint, and talked about how he got to Redlands and what his life was like on campus. A baseball player and environmental studies major, life wasn’t going as he planned–he was injured and couldn’t pitch, his grades were falling, and he had a cancer scare–but one thing started to stand out: his writing. With encouragement from his professors, he got his start at newspapers, with his byline appearing in the Redlands Daily Facts, the Los Angeles Times, and the Bulldog Weekly.
“You were paid by the inch there, so I quickly learned to write epic sagas,” he said.
Myers didn’t know it at the time, but his career in journalism had been established. During study abroad trips to Australia in 1999 and 2000, he interned at ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) and Network Ten, covering the summer Olympics for free. Before graduating, he sent his resume out to countless news outlets, and following Sept. 11 began working at CNN in Los Angeles, where he went on to become a producer for “Larry King Live.” He also met his wife, Amber.
“In this business, you have to have a constant in your life,” he said. “Your family, faith, basic guiding principles, whatever it is having a constant is critical.”
Myers left CNN for a job at ABC’s “20/20” in New York, and returned to Los Angeles in 2011 for his position at CBS. He has covered major events since then, from the assassination attempt of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords to the tsunami in Japan and the aftermath of the Christopher Dorner manhunt, often having to drop everything to get scoops.
“I was getting ready to eat the best sandwich of my life when my phone rang and I was asked how soon I could get to the newsroom,” he said. “I said 20 minutes, and then was told that we were hearing reports that Osama bin Laden had been killed. I then said, ‘I’ll be there in 10.’”
Whether he’s working on breaking news or a montage of the San Diego Zoo’s newest baby panda, Myers is always keeping his focus on what’s important and what’s ahead.
“We’re only as good as our last report,” he said. “The way we handle covering news is rooted in how we’ve prepared ourselves.”
Posted: Nov. 8, 2013
Written by: Catherine Garcia