CNN anchor discusses college affordability, millennial generation at alma mater

Kaitlynn LeBeau

TV2 interviews CNN anchor and KSU alumnus Carol Costello from KentWired.com on Vimeo.

Kent State alumna and CNN anchor Carol Costello reflected on her memories at Kent State, her time at TV2 and a fact about her people may not know from watching her on TV when she was interviewed for TV2 on May 1.

Costello was on campus to moderate a panel discussion Thursday called “Presidential Perspectives.” The panelists were President Beverly Warren and three former Kent State presidents: Lester Lefton (2006-2014), Carol Cartwright (1991-2006) and Michael Schwartz (1982-1991).

“I think it’s a critical time for higher education in America,” Costello said. “So I was excited to interview the panel because they’ve been there, done that. They know what they’re talking about.”

Costello said the group discussed the challenges facing higher education -— specifically, college affordability. The national average tuition cost for an academic year is $7,407 (for a 4-year or above public school) according to the College Affordability and Transparency Center. Costello said there needs to be a solution, which she said may be more government funding.

“A college education can’t just be for the children of wealthy parents,” Costello said. “It’s got to be available to everyone.”

She said she relates her interest in bringing attention to this issue back to reporting. When Costello was covering the Baltimore riots, she said she saw people who don’t have the same opportunities for a good education.

“Where do you go if you don’t have an education in America? What do you do?” Costello said. “Do you work at McDonald’s? Can’t do that anymore because people with college educations are doing that.”

After more than 30 years in the broadcast industry, Costello said adapting to a quickly evolving and fast-paced digital world is not always easy for journalists.

“Today you hear a lot more about it (criticism of journalists) because there’s the Internet and there’s Twitter and there’s Facebook and there’s so many avenues to criticize us, so we hear it and the country hears it,” Costello said. “It used to hurt my feelings when I was criticized on a national platform — it really did — because I work really hard at what I do.”

Costello said she understands that she will say things that people don’t agree with, and she’s OK with that.

“My main goal as a journalist is to get people to think about things in a deep way,” Costello said.

In addition to talking about the state of journalism today and how she’s been affected by criticism as an anchor for a national news outlet, she gave her take on millennials.

Millennials are widely thought to be the Americans born between 1980 and early 2000s — the largest generation in the United States. Costello said she calls the generation “much maligned.” In April, Costello interviewed a group of journalism students from Kent State’s Advanced Producing class for a special titled “The Millennial Project” that aired on CNN. “The Millennial Project” aimed to get to the bottom of stigmas and stereotypes associated with the generation.

Costello attended Kent State in the ‘80s but left just before finishing her degree, and she returned in 2004 to complete her undergraduate degree in journalism.

Contact Kaitlynn LeBeau at [email protected]