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Since 1925
The news that keeps us Onward On!

The Carroll News

The news that keeps us Onward On!

The Carroll News

Nationally acclaimed journalist John Quiñones visits JCU

“What Would You Do?” TV show host John Quiñones presents to JCU.

On Sept. 22 in the Donahue Auditorium, renowned journalist and host of the hit reality series “What Would You Do?” John Quiñones spoke to the JCU community to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month. As part of an initiative from John Carroll’s Department of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging, Quiñones delivered a keynote speech titled “Opportunity Through Education” where he discussed his experience being a minority reporter and how he rose to the position that he is in today.

Today, “What Would You Do?” is a multi-award winning series showcasing how everyday people react when they don’t know that they are in the spotlight. According to ABC News’ official website, WWYD is a “…hidden camera show [that] examines how people behave in a situation that requires them to either act or mind their own business.”

Topics covered include a variety of hot-button issues from racism, ableism, bad parenting, bullying and more. The journalist even stated that he was previously told that “the world would be a better place if everyone thought John Quiñones was in the other room.”

“After all these years of doing this show and we filmed more than 1,000 ethical dilemmas, all of them are based on situations that we read right from the headlines and received on videos [that] have gone viral on the internet,” Quiñones said. “We have to raise our voices today louder than ever, because the country is very divided. Hate crimes in this country are at the highest level that they’ve been in a decade.”

After first showing a quick trailer for the past season of “What Would You Do?” which features shots from a myriad of new locations including states like New Jersey and West Virginia, Quiñones was introduced by co-president of the Latin American Student Association, Melina Mera ‘24. Then, the correspondent took to the stage to discuss his journey from being a child migrant worker, to juggling three separate jobs and internships in college, to hosting 15 seasons of his critically acclaimed show.

Along with speaking on his past and how his ethnicity impacted his academic career, Quiñones also elaborated on how he landed his first job at a Chicago news station and how he won his first Emmy by going undercover as an illegal immigrant both crossing the U.S.-Mexican border and working in deplorable conditions in a pizza shop closer to his station. This story led to Quiñones finding a passion in storytelling that “does not focus on the movers and the shakers, but concentrates on the moved and shaken.”

“I knew then that those are the kinds of stories that as a Latino reporter, I could tell better than anyone in journalism,” Quiñones said. “Imagine the lights are out and we can’t even see. We’re stumbling around, we can’t even see our hands in front of our faces. Well, the journalist is the person with a little candle with a little flashlight. They can shine in the darkest corners of the room to illuminate injustice, to illuminate corruption, to illuminate human rights violations and civil rights violations. I think, when journalism is done right, those are the kinds of stories we should be telling.”

Quiñones also talked about his favorite segment of “What Would You Do?” which featured the story of Linda Hamilton, a homeless woman who showed that anyone can be a hero.

“The next time you witness an injustice and the little voice in the back of your head says to do something, remember the words and the actions of Linda Hamilton,” he elaborated. “This woman was homeless and suffered a stroke, yet she stopped to help a stranger who was down. Not because she was gonna be on national television, but because it was the right thing to do.”

Regarding being a minority journalist, Quiñones told The Carroll News that it is important for young reporters to recognize that “…your voice is unique, whatever it is that you bring to the world, whoever you know, the essence of your being, will enlighten viewers and television viewers and radio listeners.”

“We bring a lot as our own individual with our own individual backgrounds,” he continued. “Remember that, if not you then who? Capitalize on that and remember that you’re valuable and your viewpoint is going to enlighten the world.”

Quiñones also recommended that young journalists should grab every opportunity that they can and ask questions at every possibility.

“In my case, I was feeding horses at the back of a radio station,” Quiñones said. “You would think that has nothing to do with journalism and maybe it doesn’t, but I got to then befriend the owners of those horses who are disc jockeys and the announcers at the radio station. I was able to talk to them and they would give me advice. There’s so many things you can do as an intern.”

Multiple students and community members alike enjoyed Quiñones’ event. Even with a packed audience, Quiñones stayed behind after to answer questions and talk to students interested in his career.

“I thought it was an interesting way to integrate conversations about marginalized groups within education and the general public at John Carroll,” Sydnie Oakleaf ‘25 told The Carroll News. “People showed up because he is a popular figure but left hearing a meaningful talk about the impacts of hard work and determination.”

Faculty also enjoyed the event. Dr. Brent Brossmann, chair of The Tim Russert Department of Communication, said that he appreciates the positivity Quiñones brought to campus.

“It was a real pleasure to meet John Quiñones,” Brossmann said. “His demeanor in our introduction to each other was the same as it was in his presentation – he came across as someone who truly values others and cares about their experiences. I think his talk resonated at so many levels – about the values of education, diversity, ethics and the value and dignity of everyone. It sure seemed like our students loved him.”

“What Would You Do?” will be returning for a 16th season in the beginning of 2024.

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About the Contributor
Laken Kincaid
Laken Kincaid, Editor-in-Chief
Laken Kincaid is the Editor-in-Chief for The Carroll News from Beckley, West Virginia. They are a senior at John Carroll University who is double majoring in political science and communications (digital media) and minoring in leadership development. Laken has written for The Carroll News since the start of their freshman year and has previously served as a staff reporter, campus section editor and managing editor of the paper. They have received 18 Best of SNO awards, a Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence award for Region 4 and two honorable mentions from the College Media Association. They have also been recognized by universities like Georgetown for their investigative reports. Additionally, they also write political satire for The Hilltop Show and feature stories on global poverty for The Borgen Project. In addition to their involvement with The Carroll News, Laken is involved with the Kappa Delta sorority, the speech and debate team, the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion, the Improv club and other organizations. They also serve as the news director for WJCU 88.7, John Carroll's own radio station, and as the president for John Carroll's Society of Professional Journalists chapter.  Laken also started their own national nonprofit organization known as Art with the Elderly which they have won the President's Volunteer Service Award and the Humanity Rising Award for. When not writing, Laken can be found doing graphic design for their internship with Union Home Mortgage or working as a resident assistant and peer learning facilitator on campus. Laken also enjoys skiing and watching true crime documentaries. In the future, Laken hopes to become a political journalist for a national news organization or to be a campaign commercial editor for politicians. To contact Laken, email them at [email protected].

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