“The happiest stutterers, I learned, are those who are willing to stutter in front of others.” ~John Stossel
John Stossel, one of the most well-known reporters for Fox News, proves with his life that it is possible to defy all the odds. He proves that it is possible for someone who stutters to go to work every day, knowing that he will have to project his voice into a microphone that amplifies every stutter for millions of people to hear. He proves that it is possible to be happy in spite of adversity. The secret to his success is simple, yet truly profound. He has learned that it is okay to stutter in front of others.
Between the ages of 3-4, Stossel began stuttering (1). His stutter caused him great anxiety and made him feel very ashamed throughout his childhood. In an article for the Stuttering Foundation, he recalls feeling “terror in the classroom” (2). Although he took great measures to relieve his stutter and even learned how to mask it, nothing offered a complete cure. Years later, he found himself facing a career in which he could no longer hide his stutter.
John Stossel’s initial journalism career was filled with great doubt and fear. He states, “In my early days as a reporter, I did regular live 30-second segments with the anchor of the news program; I woke up every morning in fear of that. The fear stayed with me all day long” (2). He even recalls an incident when his stutter overwhelmed him during a newscast. While trying to give election results, he struggled so much to say the word dollars that the news channel cut him off the air (1). Stossel strongly considered quitting his job, until a speech therapy program offered him new hope (2).
According to Stossel, the program was extremely successful: “Once I began to see the results of treatment, I was like a cork out of a bottle. I started talking all the time, celebrating and testing my newly found fluency” (2). Although speech therapy didn’t cure his stutter completely, it gave him a new sense of control. Having a sense of control makes such a difference, because it gives a stutterer the courage to speak confidently. Gaining control is like gaining a brand new voice!
John Stossel continues to thrive in his career today. He has written several books and even has his own weekly television program, aptly named “Stossel.” In addition, he regularly appears on “The O’Reilly Factor,” along with several other prominent shows.
John Stossel’s story is one of bravery and triumph. He pursued a career in journalism, in spite of his stutter. Although he experienced moments of failure and defeat, he made the courageous decision to keep picking up a microphone every day. You know what’s so amazing? Once he realized that it was okay to stutter in front of others, that microphone no longer echoed a stutter. It echoed bravery.
Thank you, John Stossel, for inspiring the stuttering community so much with your life!
(1) Moran, Jessica. “Finding His Voice: John Stossel Details His Struggle with Stuttering.” Fox News.
http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/12/11/finding-his-voice-john-stossel-details-his-struggles-with-stuttering.html (accessed October 9, 2016).
(2) The Stuttering Foundation. “John Stossel.”
http://www.stutteringhelp.org/famous-people/john-stossel (accessed October 9, 2016).