Originally created 05/15/00

Journalist views news at ringside



CNN anchorwoman Judy Woodruff smiles when she says her role as a journalist has allowed her to witness history unfold. Her time in front of the camera has given her the best perspective to judge what it all means, and she is grateful.

"Being in this role has given me a ringside seat to some of the most memorable events in American history," she told a crowd of about 60 at St. Paul's Episcopal Church on Sunday night.

Mrs. Woodruff, a CNN anchorwoman for seven years and a graduate of Academy of Richmond County, spoke about the characters and stories she has covered during her journalism career - which started in Atlanta and for 23 years has been in the nation's capital.

Before her career on television, Mrs. Woodruff grew up in Augusta with big dreams. She attended Langford Middle School and said those years have helped her deal with some of her biggest challenges - her three children, two of whom are teen-agers.

"When I have a difference of opinion with my teen-age children, I think back to my teen-age days and think, `Is there any way they are right?"' she said.

Mrs. Woodruff is married to Al Hunt, a CNN analyst and Wall Street Journal columnist. She explained how their marriage created a change for her from her years in Augusta.

"Back then I was Baptist. I attended Curtis Baptist Church," Mrs. Woodruff said. "But for the last 20 years, since I married an Episcopalian, I have made the Episcopal church my home."

Mrs. Woodruff spoke as part of a fund-raiser for St. Paul's youth ministries.

During her 20-minute address, she constructed a time line of her career, spotting the highlights with political characters who have found a place in her memory.

She talked about Georgia's former Gov. Lester Maddox, who always called her Miss Judy when they spoke.

"I decided it was better not to challenge him on that," she said. "In fact, it was better than what some of the Georgia state legislators called me back then."

Covering President Jimmy Carter's fishing trips, Mrs. Woodruff said, prepared her for her stint in the White House press corps. And watching Ronald Reagan handle what she called "the theater of the presidency" prepared her for President Clinton.

She noted how Mr. Clinton recently poked fun at himself in a video presented at a dinner honoring the press.

"I think with his humor, he is able to neutralize some of the lame-duck talk," she said. Mr. Clinton, first elected in 1992, leaves office in January.

Reach Matthew Boedy at (706) 724-0851 or newsroom@augustachronicle.com.