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10 Plus 1: Thalia Assuras On Canada And Run-Ins With Police

(CBS)
If she weren't in news, she'd likely be teaching or running a restaurant ... quite a stretch from being correspondent and anchor at CBS News. But in her current role, Thalia Assuras would like to see more coverage of foreign news -- especially Canada (she's a native) -- and she also wonders, along with a reader, why there isn't yet a woman anchoring any of the evening news broadcasts by herself.

So, what do you do for a living?

As much as I possibly can in one of the most fascinating, demanding and ever-challenging professions. I am a correspondent and anchor at the network, with responsibilities that run the gamut. Name a story, and I've probably made a stab at it, whether reporting from Iraq and Iran, to covering stories of all stripes in virtually every state. From politics to peanuts. The stories - your stories - are everywhere.
What is not being covered enough at CBS News?
There is so much not being covered it's difficult to find a starting point and it's that way at every network. I could mention a couple close to my heart - Canada. Yep, that's where I'm from and believe it or not it's a major trading partner for the U.S. - and more foreign news.
What's the strangest thing that has ever happened to you on the job
I have to say I don't find too much that's strange. There have been so many surprises that they don't seem to be surprises anymore.
If you had 10 broken fingers and no gas in the car, which colleague would you want to be there?
Now you see, if I chose one colleague, I might hurt the feelings of another. Then again, they'll all understand this: my producers and crews in Baghdad who got us in and out of trouble worked hard, were creative and were always intent on getting the best stories possible.
If you were not in news, what would you be doing?
I can't really imagine anything else, at least not right now ... but perhaps teaching. Then again, I would love to own a restaurant and create new dishes.
What is the biggest change at CBS during the time you've been here?
It has to be the technology. News is news is news. How one gets that out to the public has changed drastically. I don't think I ever imagined being able to use a computer and a small satellite dish to beam stories from the Middle East via the Internet. Listen, I remember when we used typewriters - the manual type, not even the electric version - so talking to a camera and then having my report on the Internet virtually instantaneously is exhilarating.
What are the last three books you've read or the last three movies you've seen?
Well, I'm reading two books right now: "Mao" and James Risen's "State of War." I try to alternate between fiction and nonfiction and the books are piling up. Next is likely to be the new Margaret Atwood book, or "The Sea" ... whatever strikes my fancy in that pile. (P.S. I never get to see enough movies, though I managed to see "Capote," "Munich" and "Memoirs of A Geisha.")
What is your first memory of TV News?
The strongest memory is of that sound tone and the Indian head picture when broadcasting would end for the day. But I would have to say it was always "News at Noon" in London, Ontario, my hometown. It was local news, coming just before the cartoons all accompanied by lunch. Then again, news entered my consciousness at a very young age, with radio reports around 8 a.m. every day.

Would you want your child to go into the news business
Yes.
Who is the most fascinating person you've covered and who is the biggest jerk?
The jerk, or let's make that jerks – plural – I'll never tell ... though there was that police officer in precinct a long time ago who really said, in all seriousness, "What's a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?" Really, he meant it as a pickup line.

As for the most fascinating - that's really a tough one. There isn't just one. Think about it, in how many jobs do you get to meet and interview world leaders: Pierre Trudeau, Willy Brandt, Yitzhak Rabin, U.S. presidents ... and more importantly, those people who don't have celebrity or political power attached to them: the soldier who is recovering from a shattered body, the little boy with cancer who invented a videogame to help other kids with their pain ... so many.

Finally, two questions from readers. The first comes from Antillo99: Why has no one interviewed Saddam Hussein?
Well, in fact, Saddam Hussein was interviewed before the conflict began in 2003, by CBS's Dan Rather. I assume though, the question refers to the prisoner Hussein. And that says it right there. He is a prisoner, his fate in the hands of Iraqi law.
And another question from sabians: How long before you see a woman anchoring a nightly news desk [by herself]? And don't you think it's long overdue?
It is certainly long overdue and there is no reason as far as I am concerned for this not to have happened by now. There is the so-called "conventional wisdom" (and wisdom is a questionable word here) that the American audience would regard a woman as not having enough strength or gravitas, that people like to hear a deep, supposedly stronger, more comforting voice. The same reasons there has not been a woman president in this country despite the fact that women have led other countries for years. Why? Beats me. Weekday male-female co-anchors have been and are being tried on national networks; women have held weekend evening news positions for years. Maybe you can explain it to me.