National News Correspondent and HWS Trustee Bill Whitaker ’73, L.H.D.’97 is currently in Japan, reporting on the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the country late last week. In one filed report, “Shocking scenes on the road to Sendai,” Whitaker describes driving through the city as “like maneuvering through some kind of apocalyptic maze.”
“The roads are littered with the carcasses of cars and trucks tossed and twisted by the powerful surging water of the tsunami. Huge tanker trucks and 18 wheelers upended, wrapped around utility poles, piled on top of each other,” he says.
In another report filed from Sendai, he notes, “The results in Biloxi, Port-au-Prince and Sendai are the same. The world is turned upside down, the landscape is unrecognizable, people walk around in dazed disbelief. Survival: water, food, shelter, are the primary concern.”
Whitaker, of Los Angeles, Calif., is a graduate of Hobart College and a member of the Hobart and William Smith Colleges Board of Trustees. He has had a successful career in television journalism since his graduation. Since 1984, he has covered many of the major breaking news events and issues of the day, including the pro-democracy uprising in Tienanmen Square in Beijing, the Persian Gulf War, the Unabomber case, the O.J. Simpson murder and civil trials, the Columbine school shootings, and the presidential campaign of George W. Bush. Whitaker also has covered many of the recent natural disasters such as Katrina and in Haiti.
In 1989, Whitaker received an Emmy Award for a segment he did for “48 Hours.” He was honored at the Minorities in Broadcasting Program seventh annual “Striving for Excellence Awards.” He is also engaged in his community. Whitaker has been active in adult literacy tutoring programs and he and his family have served meals in homeless shelters.
Whitaker has remained connected to his Geneva alma mater. He has been a well-received speaker at campus events throughout the years. In 1994 and 1999, he both opened and then closed the more than $100 million capital campaign as the master of ceremonies at the campaign celebrations. In 1997, he was awarded an honorary degree by the Colleges for his service. He holds a master’s degree from Boston University in African-American studies. He also attended the master of journalism program at the University of California at Berkeley.
CBS’ complete coverage of Japan, including reporting from Whitaker, is online.