Audrey Women of Influence: ELAINE QUIJANO

Story by Shinyung Oh.

“Bridgegate” breaks on the morning of Wednesday, January 8, 2014. In New York’s CBS Broadcast Center, correspondent Elaine Quijano heads to the National Desk to seize the assignment. After talking to her producers, Quijano obtains a copy of the newly released emails regarding the shutdown of lanes in Fort Lee, N.J., allegedly ordered by Gov. Chris Christie’s staff as political retribution. First, she works on verifying their content. Then, she pores over the heavily redacted documents to try to decipher what is going on. At the same time, her team works on tracking down Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, the rumored target of the retribution, to schedule an interview. Quijano fires off a draft outline to her producers before dashing out at 2 p.m.

Quijano hops in a cab to head to Fort Lee on the heels of her team members who left earlier in their satellite van. Unexpectedly, they encounter a traffic accident on West Side Highway. Panic sets in. The mayor has limited availability. The show airs at 6:30 p.m. Quijano calls her senior producers to update them while her mind races to make alternative plans. Should she hop on the ferry? Track down the mayor elsewhere? For Quijano, missing the interview is not an option. This is no time to be meek. She has to get the story.

The cab makes its way through West Side Highway and Lincoln Tunnel before finally pulling up to Fort Lee. Quijano interviews Sokolich and heads over to the George Washington Bridge where she will do her live shot. There she hunkers down in the satellite van to pull her story together.

In the segment that airs later that evening on CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, Quijano displays none of the panic that ensued shortly before. She gazes calmly into the camera, her shoulder-length hair pulled back with not a wisp out of place and white pearl earrings dangling placidly, as she reports the story that has the potential to bring down the rumored Republican presidential favorite for 2016. She’s home by 7:30 that evening to put her three kids to bed. It’s just another workday for Quijano.

Quijano, who is in her late 30s, lives a journalism student’s dream. Upon graduating from the University of Illinois, she worked at a couple of local stations before landing at CNN Newsource and then at CNN where she covered various beats, including the White House, the Pentagon and the Supreme Court. Now at CBS as a correspondent, Quijano reports for CBS Evening News and CBS This Morning. Ask whether she thinks of herself as a success, and she’ll brush it off. “Everyone defines success differently,” she says.

But by anyone’s standards, Quijano has climbed to the top of her field. She’s reported on stories as far reaching as 9/11, the election of George W. Bush, and the U.S. invasion of Iraq. On CBS Evening News alone, more than 6 million viewers watch her nightly as she reports on events like the inauguration of Pope Francis, the trial of “Whitey” Bulger, and the manhunt for the Boston Marathon bombing suspects. She works with some of the most renowned names in the field, including Scott Pelley, Charlie Rose and Bob Schieffer.

She talks as if she simply willed herself to reach these heights. “I’ve just been persistent,” she says about her career. “It requires absolute commitment. Your will has to be such that you endure.” But any ascent requires toil, and Quijano has had her share. Take this example. When Hurricane Sandy unleashed on the East Coast on Oct. 29, 2012, Quijano bundled herself in her down jacket and winter boots to meet the hurricane in Belmar, N.J. From 6 a.m. until noon, she stood in boots filled with frigid water, pants drenched, with sand pelting her as she clutched the exterior handrail of a nearby house to anchor herself. She worried about hypothermia and felt as if she was having an out-of-body experience. In the aired footage, the ocean bellows behind her and Quijano fights to keep her eyes open against the punishing rain and wind. But what you see is a reporter at work, steadily describing for her viewers the overwhelming force of Mother Nature and the imperative to evacuate.

At such moments, Quijano blocks out all else and sees only the mission at hand. “I live in the moment,” she says. “I concentrate on it 150 percent.”

Above all else, she is prepared. In her office, she has a closet where she keeps two bags, extra clothes and weather gear, like snow boots, hand and foot warmers and everything else she may need for wherever she is sent. On any given day, at any given moment, she may get launched on a story hundreds of miles away. “This is the worst,” she says, “to be unprepared.” She doesn’t even like wearing her suits to work, preferring to change once she gets to the office, for fear of getting a stain during her commute.

Quijano says that she was first attracted to broadcast journalism in part because of the adrenaline rush. But she does not look like an adrenaline junkie. Instead, she talks like a second grade teacher, ever patient, always calm. Watch her interview the parents of Newtown victims as she listens with the intensity of a psychotherapist, her face intent with empathy. “My objective is to hear what they want to say,” she says about her interview subjects. “I try to be compassionate and respectful and try to listen a lot more than I talk.”

Interviewing Sandy Hook parents was particularly difficult. At the time, her daughter was 6, the same age as the young victims. “I found it too easy to stand in their shoes, to know how to convey the stories for those parents,” she says.

When she has a choice, she prefers a walk on the lighter side. “I like stories where the viewer is left with the feeling that the world is not such a bad place to be — people coming to the aid of others, people overcoming things,” she says. “These resonate with me.” Her recent favorites? A story on Kid President, a 10-year-old boy with brittle bone disease whose homemade videos went viral. “I always root for the underdog,” she says. Then there is the story of Diana Nyad who, after several failed attempts, finally swam from Cuba to Florida at the age of 64. This story appealed to Quijano because she takes to heart the message that failure is never final. “For many people who are struggling with whatever they have in their life, [Nyad] represents this goal — that you should do what you do. It’s a human story told within the parameters of a swim.”

When asked if she identifies with the underdog and what she had to overcome in her own history, she refuses to go there. “We’re not ones to navel gaze,” she says, referring to herself and her Filipino American family. “You do what you must.” For Quijano, failure is not an option, and it certainly does not have the last word. It barely registers on her mental barometer. She is too busy. She has stories to tell.

This story was originally published in our Spring 2014 issue. Get your copy here.  

High Expectations for Women in Media: News Anchor Susan Kim Told She Looks Pregnant

There’s no denying the pressure put on women to be thin. A simple flip through a mainstream fashion magazine is enough to get the message across: society has a set ideal image for beauty. Just today, we discovered an intense weight loss app in Japan and many more seem to be hitting the market.

And what about women on television? Are they expected to look a certain way just because they are seen by the public? Apparently so. Milwaukee anchor Susan Kim constantly faces those expectations.

Recently, Kim revealed that a viewer sent her a message on facebook to tell her that she looked pregnant in a certain dress.

“Here’s the thing. At first I laughed, no big deal, I wasn’t offended and thanked her for her feedback,” Kim responded on her facebook. “But the more I think about it, the more those comments make me feel bad for women… in general.”

Kim’s response makes it clear that the different expectations between men and women in media is unreasonably different. Read the entire post here:

A viewer messaged me on Facebook during the show this morning to tell me I look pregnant in this dress, especially when I hold my scripts below my belly. She said she was just trying to be honest and then… apologized that maybe she shouldn’t have said anything. Here’s the thing. At first I laughed, no big deal, I wasn’t offended and thanked her for her feedback. After all, we share our mornings on television… together… and I do appreciate that! But the more I think about it, the more those comments make me feel bad for women… in general. I’ve had three kids and gained 50-60 pounds with each. I was considered high risk…so much so that with my second… I had to take a lot of steroids and will forever have a big flap of skin because of the weight gain. And now, I’m in my late 40′s. Is it not OK for women with that kind of history to still have a ‘tummy?’ Do we have to be so perfect… even if we’re on TV… that we have to have a flat stomach… and if we don’t… the observation is made that we look pregnant? I’m not looking for compliments. I’m just wondering if that’s really how women are viewed. If yes, that makes me sad. She also told me to tell Vince, “great tie.” I passed the message on.

 

 

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Heartbreaking Images: The Aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan

One of the world’s strongest recorded Typhoons recently plowed through the Philippines leaving catastrophic damage. More than 10,000 estimated people are dead and nearly 620,000 people have been displaced from their homes and communities.

Here are some ways you can offer your aid:

Philippine Red Cross is sending rescue teams to affected areas of the country.
UN humanitarian response depot (UNHRD) have set up hubs with equipment to affected areas.
The UN’s World Food Program is providing food assistance to families and children.
UNHCR is providing emergency resources to the affected areas.
Unicefs Philippine branch is trying to provide access to drinkable water, medical supplies, food and shelter.
Gawad Kalinga, a Philippine nonprofit dedicated to fighting poverty, is accepting monetary donations as well as nonperishable goods such as children’s vitamins, rice, kitchen utensils and blankets.
A shipping company is delivering to the Philippines for free.
Candlelight Vigils are being held in various communities to raise relief funds.
Habitat for Humanity plans to offer shelter repair kits for families who need to re-build their damaged houses.
Operation USA will allocate donations directly to relief and recovery efforts.

 

Below are some of the heartbreaking images of the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.
Warning: Some of the following images may be graphic.

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A survivor stands in the wreckage of Tacloban city

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A father looks over the body of his deceased daughter.

A father looks over the body of his deceased daughter.

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Bodies of the deceased wrapped in blankets in a damaged chapel.

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A damaged village hall in Janiuay, in Iloilo province.

A damaged village hall in Janiuay, in Iloilo province.

 

Homeless survivors take refuge in a damages jeepney.

Homeless survivors take refuge in a damages jeepney.

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Survivors wait to receive treatment and supplies.

Survivors wait to receive treatment and supplies.

 

Resident's cover their face to avoid the smell of rotting corpses.

Resident’s cover their face to avoid the smell of rotting corpses.

Residents try to rebuild their homes.

Residents try to rebuild their homes.

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(Source 1, 2, 3)

Sriracha Factory Odor Causes Burning Eyes and Headaches

Huy Fong Foods, creator of the beloved Sriracha product, is undergoing major trouble in Irwindale, California.

If you’re a fan of this product, don’t worry. Using the popular hot sauce for your food won’t cause you discomfort, but apparently living near the production factory will.

Residents have filed several complaints about burning eyes and constant headaches due to the intense and painful odor emitted by the factory. One family in the area stated that they were forced to move a birthday party indoors due to the strong odor.

The town is now filing a suit demanding that production be stopped until there is a concrete plan of action for diminishing the spicy odors, said Irwindale City Atty. Fred Galante. A judge is scheduled to decide the fate of the company on Thursday, Oct 31.

With this legal complaint, a Sriracha shortage may be shortly approaching and will cause prices to rise. Several Sriracha lovers have taken to twitter stating that we must unite in order to save the factory.

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What do you think of the burning issue in Irwindale, California?

That Awkward Moment When A Baboon Cops A Feel On Live Television

Yup, you read that correctly.

Recently a video of a baboon holding on to a TV reporter’s breast has gone viral. Fox40 reporter, Sabrina Rodriguez, was the unfortunate individual to experience the awkward ordeal.

The 29-year-old Sacramento reporter, who is Japanese and Puerto Rican, was covering a local harvest festival and was joined by a baboon named Mickey. Within seconds of his introduction, as if he knew when cameras started rolling, he stood up and placed his hand on Rodriguez’s breast.

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Rodriguez proved to be quite the professional. “He’s trying to cop a little bit of a feel.” she joked. Even when Mickey didn’t move his hand away, Rodriguez continued with the report which is a much different reaction than many of us may have had. Admittedly, I wouldn’t have been able to keep a straight face.

After the report, Rodriguez was asked if Mickey’s toothy expression was anger or if he was smiling. Rodriguez responded, “I’m gonna go with smiling.”

Watch the video for yourself:

Hearts Break Worldwide: One Direction’s Zayn Malik is Officially Engaged

Hearts all around the world can be heard breaking.

Well not really, but according to my facebook newsfeed, there is certainly a great deal of sadness. One Direction’s 20-year-old British Pakestinian heartthrob, Zayn Malik, proposed to his girlfriend of two years, singer Perrie Edwards.

zayn perrieThe news was confirmed by Edward’s brother via twitter. Still in denial? Hate to break the news, but the couple hit the red carpet in London this past Tuesday for the premiere of the boy band’s documentary, “One Direction: This is Us.” Edwards can be seen clearly flaunting the gorgeous engagement ring.

There’s no denying that Malik was a fan-favorite. As much as we’re sad to see Malik leave the market, I’m sure everyone wishes the best of luck for this marriage (I hope?). So chin up everyone! The best news? We can still swoon over pictures of Zayn all we want!

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Asian American Couple Jailed and Accused of Murdering Adopted Daughter

An Asian-American married couple from Los Angeles are jailed in the Middle East and accused of murder with intent for allegedly starving their 8-year-old adopted daughter, Gloria.

According to freemattandgrace.com, Matthew and Grace Huang were in Qatar because Matthew, a Stanford-trained engineer, was working on an infrastructure project related to the 2022 World Cup Improvements. With them were their three children- all of whom were adopted from Africa.

On January 15, 2013, Gloria suddenly died and the couple was arrested shortly after. The couple is charged for intentionally starving the child for the purposes of human trafficking despite the fact that there is no actual evidence that the couple ever harmed or mistreated their children.

The Qatari doctor who conducted Gloria’s autopsy concluded that her cause of death was dehydration and wasting disease though supporters in the U.S. argue that such a conclusion doesn’t add up. Gloria’s history of eating disorders and malnutrition, as well as the health risks that arose from them, are not taken into account.

It is, however, not a stretch to assume that malnutrition played a hand in the child’s death. Huffington Post reports “Their daughter, who was severely malnourished in early childhood, would periodically refuse food for several days and then binge eat or get food from bizarre sources, such as garbage cans or from strangers – a behavior her parents traced to her impoverished upbringing and were trying to address…The behavior is not uncommon in adopted children who have suffered from severe malnutrition in their past.”

The claim that she was starved, however, doesn’t seem to add up. Gloria was seen walking around the day before she died. If starvation were the cause, she certainly would not have had the strength to do so.

Despite Gloria lacking any physical evidence of abuse, the investigative report theorized that the adopted children were bought for organ harvesting and perhaps for medical experimentation. Yes, we agree- this is a rather harsh accusation to make.

Even more alarming, the report suggests that theres no legitimate reason to adopt these children who were not “good-looking” and did not share their “hereditary traits”. U.S. supporters argue that this abrasive comment is due to a culture gap. In America, adoption is accepted and perfectly normal, but it is a foreign concept in many countries in the Middle East.

The couple’s other two children are being cared for by their grandmother while the trial continues. The Huangs have been imprisoned in Qatar for over six months as they await their trail. The penalty if found guilty? Death.

Many U.S. supporters are fighting back against what is described as an unfair cultural misunderstanding. Let us know what you think.

(Source 1,2,3,4)