In the Heat of the Action: Journalistic Leadership from Watergate to 9/11 and Beyond
Monday, October 3, 2016
Ann Compton was the first woman assigned by a television network to cover the White House and her longevity and impact have been considered unmatched over the span of her 41 years on the air for ABC News. After retiring from daily coverage in 2014, Ann was brought back to cover the 2016 political conventions for ABC. Ann is also a member of the Governing Council of the Miller Center for the study of the presidency at The University of Virginia. Ann Compton’s career at ABC News spanned 7 presidents and 10 presidential campaigns for the network. She was assigned to the White House in 1974, as the Watergate scandal came to an end. She reported for all ABC News broadcasts and online from the lawn of the White House, from Capitol Hill, from the campaign trail, and from around the globe traveling with Presidents, Vice Presidents, and First Ladies. Her retirement was announced by President Barack Obama who called on her at a West Wing news conference saying, “Ann Compton, everybody here knows, is not only the consummate professional but is also just a pleasure to get to know.”
In what she considers the most significant story of her career, Ann was traveling with the President on September 11, 2001, and was the only broadcast reporter allowed to remain onboard Air Force One to report on behalf of all the press during the chaotic hours after the terrorist attacks when George W. Bush was unable to return directly to Washington. For that coverage Ann received special note in the awards bestowed on ABC’s coverage, including an Emmy, a Peabody, and the Silver Baton from the DuPont awards at Columbia University. Ann has been inducted into 6 Halls of Fame and has received 5 honorary university degrees.
Ann Compton was elected by her colleagues as President of the White House Correspondents’ Association for 2007-2008. She was chairman of the Radio-Television Correspondents’ Association on Capitol Hill in 1987-1988. Twice Ann was selected as a panelist on the formal presidential campaign debates.
She began her career in Virginia as a reporter and anchor on WDBJ Television after her graduation from Hollins University. She was raised on the North Shore of Chicago. Ann is married to Dr. William Hughes, a physician in Washington, DC, and they are the parents of three sons and a daughter and the proud grandparents of three granddaughters. Ann says her most valued award is a golden statuette bestowed by the National Mothers’ Day committee naming her a “Mother of the Year” in 1988.