On May 26, 2011, I was afforded the privilege to interview an influential Greek-American, a CBS Business News anchor and national correspondent, Ms. Alexis Christoforous. For the past nineteen years, Ms. Christoforous has played a vital role in the business and financial news reporting scene.
According to the reporter, “I began my business reporting career in 1994, at Bloomberg television and radio. Prior to that, I worked at radio and television stations in Connecticut and upstate New York anchoring and reporting.”
On her Greek heritage, Ms. Christoforous remarks “my father is Greek-Cypriot. He is one of ten children. The family immigrated from Cyprus to England, and then to the United States back in the 1940s. My mother is Italian-American, and my great-grandfather on my mother’s side is from Naples, Italy. ”
With regard to her educational background, she states: “I was born and bred in New York, and went to parochial school through eighth grade. Then, I attended LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts, the school the movie Fame was based on, where I majored in theater. I completed my undergraduate degree at New York University. I knew that I always wanted to be in the broadcasting industry, and I was already living in the ‘media capital of the world,’ so it made sense to stay local.”
On the assets of Greek culture, Ms. Christoforous remarks “The food is phenomenal. I love to cook, so I enjoy cooking a lot of Greek dishes. I grew up with a lot of great food around me, because both sides of the family owned restaurants. I love the Greek language, and the country itself. I was able to travel extensively after I graduated from college. I traveled all around the Peloponnesus, and I visited a few islands, Athens, and Delphi. It’s such a rich culture, and I find that I’m learning something new all the time.”
“I was always very curious as a child. I asked a lot of questions and I started talking at a young age. Both of those things lend themselves to this industry, since you need to be inquisitive to be a journalist, and certainly if you are a broadcaster, language and speech is a big part of it. I was always interested in theater and the performing arts, and working in front of the camera was something I always wanted to do. Broadcast journalism blended all of those things. It was the ideal career for me!” reveals Ms. Christoforous on her inspiration to pursue a career in journalism.
“From a very young age, I was bitten by the journalism bug,” she adds.
The hardest aspect of Ms. Christoforous’ job as a business journalist is “choosing stories that viewers care about and relate to, because sometimes in the world of business, there are stories that are very complicated and some people may not be interested in them. Story selection, and the way I write and present the stories can be very challenging, especially because of my specialty, which is Business and Finance News,” she reveals.
“My proudest professional accomplishment was anchoring the CBS network morning news, when I was still in my 20s,” she says. “I had always wanted to anchor network news by the time I was 30 years old. Being able to anchor an entire show, by myself, on the network level was really a major accomplishment. I actually still have the script from the day I first anchored the newscast. That was very special.”
Other proud moments for her include conducting interviews with many well-known stars and dignitaries. “I’ve interviewed a number of celebrities and they’ve all been great. Ringo Starr was especially wonderful, since he is a living legend, and was extremely generous and so nice. Then there’s Francis Ford Coppola. I’ve admired his films growing up and I had the chance to talk with him about his various business ventures. That’s really one of the amazing things about this job. You get to meet people and go places that you might otherwise never be exposed to. I really feel so privileged and lucky that I am able to do that.”
A loving spouse and mother to three children, Ms. Christoforous is able to balance a family life and her full-time career. “It’s not easy, but with the right help, it really works,” she says.” You need a great support system and I have that. My husband is a very involved father. My mother and my mother-in-law both live nearby, and we have a wonderful babysitter. When they say ‘it takes a village,’ it really does. That’s certainly true in my life. Great organizational skills also help. Part of being a good broadcast journalist is the ability to multi-task, especially with all the social media out there. You need to update your Twitter page, you’ve got to jump on Facebook, and you have to juggle radio and television reports. There are always a lot of balls in the air at once, which in many ways is how my personal life is. It’s actually what I enjoy. I function better when I’m doing many things at once,” she adds.
On serving as a panelist for the Hellenic Times Scholarship Fund Journalism Workshops this year, which took place on May 14, 2011, Ms. Christoforous notes “That was a nice change of pace. I’ve been involved with the HTSF for nearly ten years. It’s a wonderful organization, and this year the workshops gave us an opportunity to have some more one-on-one contact with the participants. We got the chance to hear what they had to say, and to respond to their questions. It was a great, intimate setting. I hope we can do more of those in the future.”
At this year’s twentieth annual HTSF GALA, she was an honored guest host, along with fellow Greek-American journalists Ernie Anastos and Nick Gregory.
“Twenty years for the HTSF is really an accomplishment!” exclaims Ms. Christoforous. “This year they were able to give out big scholarships. The HTSF is a special organization made up of some really great and caring people. I’m thrilled every year to be a part of it.”
If she weren’t a journalist, she would still like “To be involved in the theater in some way.” “It’s still a passion of mine. I’m an avid theatergoer, and I still enjoy performing.”
On future plans, Ms. Christoforous states “I would like to continue to do what I do, and to be proud of the work that I do. I hope to continue to grow with my family. Life is pretty good. Sometimes you sit back, and amidst all the craziness, you realize how blessed you are. That’s how I feel.”
For Alexis Christoforous, success is “When you’ve reached a place in your life when you are at peace with yourself, especially when you are happy with what it is you are doing in your personal life and your professional life.”
Alexis Christoforous concludes, “The Greek-American community is a close-knit community. I think they are making their presence known more and more, here in New York and around the world. We have a lot of prominent Greeks and Greek-Americans in a number of different fields from the arts, to law, and medicine. I always feel extremely proud when I see a Greek name. I say ‘Bravo.’”