Two Journalists in China and Russia

Karen & Sandy Gilmour

This class might also be called Dumb Luck because it covers the experiences of two journalists, non-experts, who were fortunate enough to land choice assignments during extraordinary times.

The first session will focus on the period between 1981 and 1983 as China began opening its doors to the West, and in the process, welcoming U.S. television journalists. During that time, Sandy Gilmour was NBC’s Beijing correspondent, and he established the network’s first news bureau there since before the Chinese Communist Revolution.

The second session will cover the Soviet Union’s experiment with glasnost (openness) and perestroika (economic and political reform). From 1986 to 1989, Sandy was NBC Moscow correspondent and bureau chief, and Karen Gilmour was an Associated Press reporter. During that time, Mikhail Gorbachev, unlike previous general secretaries, was a peripatetic public figure who encouraged the establishment of a socialist democracy in Russia.  Today he is blamed or credited, depending on one’s viewpoint, for the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Both classes will include videos of news stories from these places as well as stories of life in a much different China and Russia.

Mondays, September 24 and October 1,  2:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Norman Williams Public Library

Sandy Gilmour was a broadcast news journalist for more than thirty years. At NBC News, he covered events in the deep South and Central America, including the revolution in Nicaragua. In 1981 he was named Beijing bureau chief, where he was among the first U.S. television correspondents to report from there after formal diplomatic relations were restored between the U.S. and China. Sandy was NBC Moscow bureau chief from 1986 until 1989, and an NBC White House correspondent during the presidency of George H.W. Bush. Subsequently, he was a public affairs consultant in Washington, D.C. He is an Army veteran, private pilot, and sometime sculler and folk singer.

Karen Gilmour worked as a journalist for nearly forty years. She graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and was a reporter for four newspapers before joining the Associated Press in Moscow. She later moved to television, working first as research director and then as a producer for Cronkite Ward, Walter Cronkite’s production company. Subsequently, she was a producer for CBS News in Washington. Her final job before retirement was as editor of National Geographic’s online internal newspaper. Over the years, she also has freelanced as a writer and has worked part-time for the International Association of Journalists.