If not for Steve Helle’s Introduction to Media Law class, CNN national correspondent Kyung Lah isn’t sure how her journalism career would have gone.
“It blew my mind,” says Lah (BS/journalism ’93), who worked for CNN International in Asia before becoming a Los Angeles-based correspondent for the network.
“Helle warned us the first day that he teaches the Socratic method. I had no idea what he was talking about until he started doing it. The idea is cooperative, argumentative dialogue. Debate. Discussion. Challenging underlying presumptions.
“Yes, he was teaching media law, but his method of teaching laid the groundwork for this budding journalist. If need be, scream, yell, point, but be prepared. It was utterly terrifying but challenged my notions of the classroom and my overall thinking. To this day, I demand debate before, during and through the editorial process.
“News is best when treated as a method of discovery. I’d later learn that life is the same. Making mistakes is part of that process, as I learned screwing up in Helle’s class repeatedly in front of my peers. But it helped me figure out that I needed to get my proverbial you know what together quick as an undergraduate.
“As a first-generation immigrant, one born in Korea and raised in an authoritative world, this was the first time in my life that someone older, someone who is an authority, challenged me to be my intellectual equal.
“I’ve since interviewed prime ministers in Pakistan, Japan and China and challenged CEOs and U.S. presidential candidates. And I can trace it back to being a 19-year-old in Steve Helle’s classroom.”