National Press Club

NBC's Cynthia McFadden plans to recount risks, rewards of reporting on Thursday

June 5, 2019 | By Carmen Russell | carmen@sluchansky.com

NBC correspondent Cynthia McFadden will join a panel to examine challenges facing children in the Central African Republic at a June 6 National Press Club event.

NBC correspondent Cynthia McFadden will join a panel to examine challenges facing children in the Central African Republic at a June 6 National Press Club event.

On Thursday, June 6, at 1 p.m. (doors open and lunch served at 12:30 p.m.), the National Press Club International Correspondents Team is hosting “High Risk, High Reward: The Challenge of Reporting from the Central African Republic,” featuring award-winning NBC News Senior Correspondent Cynthia McFadden.

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McFadden got her start in journalism working for Fred Friendly after graduating from Columbia University law school. As a correspondent for ABC News, she regularly substituted for Ted Koppel, later taking over the anchor chair at Nightline. In 2014, she moved to NBC where she is currently the Senior Legal and Investigative Correspondent.

In her 35-year career, she has interviewed international political leaders including Hillary Clinton and Tony Blair and megastars like Madonna and Cher. While much of her work at NBC focuses on domestic news, she has made it a point to venture outside the country for important international stories including the famine in Kenya, murders in El Salvador, and sex trafficking in India.

It wasn’t surprising, therefore, when McFadden made her way to the Central African Republic to file a report on the challenges children face in the war-torn country, designated “the worst place to be a child”. What was surprising: The trip marked the first time an American broadcast team visited the country in five years. In an era where few American broadcast news outlets have foreign bureaus, such international reporting is noteworthy.

NBC gave the report top placement: In addition to a four-minute piece on "NBC Nightly News," the network ran a 10-minute version on "Today," exposing millions of Americans to the starvation and illness of children in CAR. Joining Caryl Stern, the President and CEO of UNICEF USA, McFadden visited hospitals, orphanages, and remote refugee camps, reporting on humanitarian efforts to stave off death and disease.

The public response was huge: Following the broadcast, UNICEF reportedly received more than $1.7 million in contributions from viewers. For McFadden, that demonstrates what she sees as the role journalism plays -- or, at least, should play.

“The goal of the work is to ultimately make a difference. I don’t want anyone to be able to say they don’t know,” she told Glamour magazine in a profile. “If we turn our backs on these people, we do it knowingly now. We know what’s happening.”