Opinion: How Reading Books Can Keep You In The Loop  

CNN's former president, Jeff Zucker./CNN

By Priscilla Mensah


   The importance of reading books cannot be understated. By reading books, you can reap many benefits, including learning how to write better, being transported to another world, if only temporarily, and even gaining relevant insight into current events. I put before you a concrete example of the last benefit, namely how one book predicted Jeff Zucker’s unexpected resignation from CNN – or at the very least predicted Zucker’s fall from grace – before it even made headlines. 

   Not too long ago, I read Katie Couric’s memoir “Going There.” Couric is a celebrated journalist whose more recent accomplishments include being a former co-host of “Today” and founding a self-titled media company. Details about these professional accomplishments and much more are spelled out in her memoir that was published last year.

   As the title suggests, the memoir gives an intimate look into Couric’s personal and professional life. For example, Couric shared being snubbed for a position at CNN by her professional associate at the time, Jeff Zucker, CNN’s now-former president. In that vein, Couric also went on to describe certain details about Zucker’s personal life, such as a weird living arrangement that he had with a colleague of his, Allison Gollust. 

   With that being one of the more eye-catching and memorable moments in the book, imagine my reaction when both Gollust and Zucker were making headlines last week (though the focus was more on Zucker than Gollust) for the very reason that Couric suggestively wrote about in her memoir. Specifically, in some iteration or another, newspapers across the country printed headlined stories that read something to the effect of “Jeff Zucker CNN’s Top Guy, Out” or something more realistic – and not created by my imagination in an attempt to encapsulate all that I saw online about the matter – “CNN President Jeff Zucker resigns over consensual relationship with key lieutenant.” 

   The latter headline is one of the more tame and less sensational ones that I read, which should come as no surprise, as it was published by CNN itself. The article, and those like it, delineate how Zucker would be resigning over a “consensual” relationship he had with a colleague. The details about the nature of the relationship, such as when it began, unsurprisingly differ according to the source. 

   Upon reading the first headline, and the couple more to follow about Zucker, I kept thinking to myself, this sounds familiar. Not yet putting the pieces together as to exactly why it sounded familiar, and still browsing the myriad of articles on the subject, I continued to learn more details about the unfolding news. Finally, now well past skimming and actually in the thick of reading the contents of a specific article, I had an ‘aha’ moment and remembered why this repetitive headline sounded familiar. At this point, I had learned that the “key lieutenant” in question was Allison Gollust.    

   Yes, you read that right, the Allison Gollust of Katie Couric’s “Going There.” In essence, Katie Couric’s suggestion had been spot on and it all came full circle. 

   This is all to say that by reading a book I had the inside scoop and some early insight into a big story that was breaking in real-time. I felt empowered that reading had given me greater context and understanding into an important development reverberating throughout the world. This is one of the many powers of reading books.

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