St. Louis native Ben Solomon reporting now from the war zone in Ukraine

St.+Louis+native+Ben+Solomon+reporting+now+from+the+war+zone+in+Ukraine

Bill Motchan , Special to the Jewish Light

One week ago, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was interviewed by a former St. Louisan, Ben C. Solomon, now a correspondent for Vice News. Solomon, 34, attended H.F. Epstein Hebrew Academy and graduated from Ladue Horton Watkins High School in 2006.

Amid heavy security in Ukraine, Solomon conducted the interview with Zelensky where the two had to move from room to room, through darkened hallways. It’s not Solomon’s first reporting stint in a dangerous environment. In 2015, he won a Pulitzer Prize as part of a reporting team from The New York Times during the Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa.

Solomon’s reporting skills were honed while he was still in college at DePauw University. He spent a semester interning at CBS News and another semester studying in Israel. Keeping calm while surrounded by mortar fire is part of Solomon’s nature, according to Marilyn Culler, associate director of the Media Fellows Program at DePauw.

Ben Solomon

“Ben has learned how to use assets in war zones to stay safe as he shares stories the world needs to see,” Culler said. “Along with his parents’ encouragement and influence, I have to believe his semester in Israel and another at CBS News helped give him a foundation for his work in the world.

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“I worked with Ben in a mentor-administrator role during his time here at DePauw,” Culler continued. “He was always curious, which makes him a great video journalist. Ben is kind, caring, and a visionary. He has seen a lot in his short life. His work continues to inspire our students.”

Professor Jonathan Nichols-Pethick, the Media Fellows Program faculty advisor at DePauw, said Solomon has a number of qualities that serve him well in a war zone.

“Ben has qualities that we can’t really teach,” Nichols-Pethick said. “He’s a really compassionate guy, and he’s really courageous. And when I say courageous, I think a lot of people want to say fearless because he goes into all these really tough areas. But Ben is also not foolhardy at all. He’s really careful, and he knows how to stay safe and keep others safe.”

Nichols-Pethick was Solomon’s advisor when he entered the Media Fellows Program in 2006.

“I was one of the instructors for that program,” he said. “I taught the first semester of their first year. So I got to see him right out of the gate. And what always struck me was he was really smart and eager and interested in all sorts of things.

“We get to meet these people on their way up and help them in whatever way we can. For many of them, their success is really reliant on their willingness to engage with things and their willingness to take chances. And we’ve had quite a few really good success stories through the program, Ben being one of them, obviously. I would love to be able to take credit for it, but I can’t because so much of the success comes from them just diving in and learning.”