OGDEN, Utah, Jan. 20, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ronan Farrow spoke to an auditorium of listeners at Weber State University on Saturday night, but not before spending some time with the school’s student journalists.
Farrow, 31, has gained fame in the past year for his reporting on alleged sexual abuse of multiple women by Harvey Weinstein, former filmmaker and co-founder of the Miramax studio. Farrow interviewed numerous women, many of whom shared their private stories publicly for the first time.
Farrow praised the hard stories being pursued by the WSU students, and he told his own story of self-doubt before he broke his story on Weinstein.
“People were telling me I was putting that career on the line for a story,” said Farrow.
He said powerful, wealthy people were trying to get him to kill the report, his news organization wasn’t backing him, and he had just learned another publication might scoop him on the story he had spent months conducting interviews for.
Farrow — who is used to being in the public eye as the son of actress Mia Farrow and filmmaker Woody Allen — said that before the story broke, he believed he was being followed and could potentially be in danger.
“There was a low point in the middle of that where I hadn’t slept, and I had lost a ton of weight,” he told his WSU audience.
“I just fell apart. I was sobbing, and I was trying not to sob, which made it worse. I’m pretty sure there was a lot of snot happening.”
The audience laughed.
“Not pretty,” Farrow added, smiling.
His story would be killed, friends told him. Farrow began to doubt himself.
“In hindsight, you don’t always know if your choices were the right ones,” he said. “In hindsight, you know if you should stick to your guns or turn the other cheek, continue with the story, or maybe just give a little to get along, not because you are a coward, but because there are other stories and there’s only so much you can do.”
But despite his ugly cry on that one night and others, Farrow moved forward, and his story was published in The New Yorker in late 2017.
Newsmakers have credited him with not only breaking the Weinstein story, but giving a significant push to the #MeToo movement, which urges survivors of sexual violence and exploitation to hold their abusers accountable.
Then there was the 2018 Pulitzer for Public Service, and Farrow is currently writing a book.
But for a period of time, whether he would continue on the Weinstein story was in question.
“In the end, I didn’t stop, because I didn’t think I was going to be able to live with myself if I let down all these women who had put so much more on the line than I had put on the line.
“In that moment, you don’t know any of those answers,” he said. “In the moment, you don’t know if you’re fighting because you’re right, or you’re fighting because of your ego, or your desire to win, or your notion of yourself as a hero in your own story.
“Whether my judgment was clouded or not, I did have a feeling. I had an instinct. I had a gut reaction, a little inner voice that told me this is the right thing to do. And even though you can’t be sure, I think most people have that little inner voice telling you, when it’s wrong, to stop.”
Farrow, who seemed humble about his own accomplishments, said people make hard choices every day.
“I am so grateful for every single person who stared down that kind of adversity and uncertainty, and far worse than I had to go through, and listened to that voice, and kept going to do the right thing.”