ALUMNI PROFILE Kelly Cannon (JD ’16)
Journalist Kelly Cannon (JD ’16) covers COVID-19, bringing awareness to underreported issues about the pandemic
When Kelly Cannon (JD ‘16) filed her first story for ABC News during President Trump’s impeachment trial in January 2020, she thought that topic would be the biggest news story in an election year.
But then COVID-19 hit. And her new career really took off.
Today, as a fellow for the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting in Washington, D.C., Cannon works to bring awareness to underreported issues through in-depth, high-impact stories, currently with a focus on issues of equity in the distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine to critical populations. Cannon’s print and broadcast stories have been featured on ABC News, NBC News, Yahoo News, and The Fulcrum.
“Covering these major stories at the very beginning and outset of my career has been a privilege,” says Cannon. “It’s been intense!”
But she says her strong educational foundation from Loyola University Chicago School of Law makes her well prepared to handle anything.
“At heart, both [lawyering and reporting] are trying to understand the other side. Journalism is where my passion and skills meet my values.”
Cannon, a fourth-generation attorney, views practicing journalism as an extension of lawyering. “At heart, both [professions] are trying to understand the other side. Journalism is where my passion and skills meet my values,” she says.
It’s been a zig-zagging road to reporting. After earning a JD from Loyola, Cannon spent two years in London, graduating in 2018 with a Master of Laws degree in international dispute resolution from King’s College. While living abroad, she became acutely aware of a shift in the world order and in the politics at home. With a gift for storytelling and a desire to use her legal and policy experience for the greater good, she began contemplating a career change to journalism.
And in fall 2018, Cannon received a call that would change her life. A mentor she met in her travels abroad, award-winning international correspondent Brent Sadler, invited Cannon to join him and his news-producer wife in Beirut to learn the nuts and bolts of frontline reporting. In spring 2019, the Sadlers helped produce Cannon’s first showreel of clips about the life, assassination, and legacy of Lebanon’s late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
“That was my first time ever on camera, my first time trying my hand at this, and I really fell in love with it then,” she says.
Cannon completed a one-year master’s degree program in journalism, specializing in politics, policy, and foreign affairs reporting, at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. She spent nine months as a reporter in Medill’s newsroom in Washington, D.C., before landing her Pulitzer fellowship.