On her 62nd birthday, we celebrate American journalist Connie Chung, who forged new territory in network news and broadcast journalism.
Constance Yu-Hwa Chung was born on August 20, 1946, in Washington, D.C., to William, a Chinese diplomat, and Margaret Chung. In the 1940s, Chung’s family had moved from Shanghai to the United States to escape the horrific living conditions that were responsible for the deaths of five of her siblings. Her parents were successful in providing a better life for Connie and her remaining four siblings; Connie went on to college with the intention of studying biology, but pursued a bachelor’s in journalism instead. In 1969, she graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park, and according to the International Women’s Leaders Conference, she began her career in journalism shortly thereafter.
In 1984, she married American talk show host, Maury Povich, and converted to Judaism. Chung was open about her desire to start a family and in 1991 cut back on her work hours to pursue motherhood. In 1995, the couple adopted Matthew Jay.
Sources in this Story
- International Women’s Leaders Conference: Bio-Connie Chung
- All American Speakers: Biography of Connie Chung
- BNET: On the Record or Off the Record? How Much Should You Say in an Interview?
- New York Times: Connie Chung Gets CNN Prime-Time Spot
- Greater Talent Network: Connie Chung
- People Magazine: I Want a Child
- ABC News: Barbara Walters, Others Tell Personal Adoption Stories
- findingDulcinea: Happy Birthday, Magic Johnson
- Media Literacy Review: What’s the Frequency, Connie?
- New York Magazine: Connie Chung Gets CNN Prime-Time Spot
Connie Chung began her career on the copy desk at WTTG-TV in DC, advancing to news writer and on-air reporter. She worked at many stations throughout her career, including CNN, NBC, MSNBC and ABC, headlining the shows “Eye-to-Eye with Connie Chung,” and “Face-to-Face with Connie Chung.” Chung also worked for “CBS Evening News,” where she worked alongside Walter Cronkite during the controversial Watergate scandal.
Throughout her career, Connie Chung had several highly publicized interviews with notables such as Magic Johnson after he broke the news about being HIV positive, and congressman Gary Condit who “came clean” to her about his affair with Chandra Levy. Chung is known for “pushing the envelope,” evident in her highly controversial interview with the mother of former Republican House speaker Newt Gingrich, where Chung uttered the famous phrase, “just between you and me.” At the time of the interview, CBS had low ratings and after this interview and held Chung liable for the network’s continued downfall. Public opinion surrounding the interview was that Chung compromised her journalistic integrity because she “tricked” 68-year-old Kathleen Gingrich.
Shortly after this interview, Chung left NBC for ABC where she covered the September 11 attacks. She later went on to CNN to anchor “Chung’s CNN Tonight.”
Connie Chung’s work earned her a host of awards, which include: three Emmy Awards, an Edward R. Murrow Award, the Educational Media Network’s Golden Apple Award, and honors from American Women in Radio and Television, according to Greater Talent Network.
The Rest of the Story
As only the second American woman anchor (after Barbara Walters), Connie Chung’s career as a journalist has been far from traditional. From her controversial stories to her career pitfalls, Chung has dodged the “path of least resistance.” A January 2006 profile in New York Magazine, in covered the couples’ new venture, a half hour talk show on MSNBC called “Weekends with Maury and Connie,” which took a casual spin on the news. However, low ratings led to the show to be cancelled only a few months after it launched.
While Chung’s career has been a roller-coaster ride of peaks and valleys—she seems to get right back up after she falls. At present, she has a low profile, with occasional appearances on “20/20,” putting her investigative journalism skills to work. Overall in her work, her motto is evident: “I wanted to be scared again… I wanted to feel unsure again. That’s the only way I learn, the only way I feel challenged.”