My huge media crush on Ann Curry

I developed a big-time media crush while covering a Social Media Week 2010 panel, Social Media & the Haiti Disaster, earlier this week: Ann Curry, news anchor for NBC’s Today.

Ann Curry

I refer to it as a media crush, and not just a plain-old schoolboy crush, because it has nothing to do with appearance. That’s not to say that Curry isn’t absolutely striking: Her combination of Cherokee, French, German, Irish, Scottish and Japanese blood gives her quite an exotic look. And I nearly had a Fred Sanford-style “big one” heart attack when I found out that she’s nearly 12 years older than I am.

However, let’s be honest: There aren’t many unattractive people with regular TV gigs, especially when it comes to females in TV news, unfair as that might be. As I said, this isn’t about looks.

Curry won me over with her insights on the panel, which also included Doctors Without Borders communications director Jason Cone, who brought many compelling stories of his own; journalist Erik Parker, who was one of the first people to get video and images from the disastrous earthquake in Haiti to the media here in the United States; The New York Times staff writer and The Lede blog main writer Rob Mackey; and moderator Andrew Rasiej, founder of the Personal Democracy Forum and senior technology advisor for The Sunlight Foundation.

Curry spoke about helping Doctors Without Borders’ planes get clearance to land in Haiti with vital medical supplies, perhaps overstepping the boundaries of a journalist in using some of her contacts to expedite matters. She told the story of Luke Renner, a humanitarian in Haiti who basically transformed into a journalist by reporting from the scene of the disaster. And she praised the power and usefulness of Twitter as a communications tool.

Her experiences were fascinating, to say the least, but what really won me over was the fact that she came across as a real person, without any trace of the gigantic ego that usually accompanies anyone who has been on television for more than five seconds. Appearing on the panel was clearly a positive experience for her, and not one of those tasks that are part of her job.

She didn’t talk down to attendees at all, nor did she try to build up what she had done. Listening to her, you could tell that she genuinely cared about what was happening in Haiti, but she didn’t try to play herself off as a heroine. When she was discussing the large number of tweets she received about Haiti, directly asking for her help, and the fact that there was no way she could act on or respond to all of them, she said, “A couple of these tweets have kept me up wondering, ‘How do I handle this?’” And she was genuine.

I was truly, truly impressed, to the point where I might actually have to start tuning into Today, although to say I am not a morning person would be the understatement of the decade. My television is never on in the morning unless something incredibly dramatic is taking place, and I have a thorough inability to comprehend anything being said until my large Dunkin Donuts iced coffee is in my system. But I might just have to change my morning routine.

My only regret about covering the panel: I was on the wrong elevator while leaving The New York Times building. I should have been on this one.

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