Emory alum reports from the front lines of Hurricane Irma

By Elizabeth Cobb Durel | Emory Report | Oct. 10, 2017

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One of the youngest reporters in the Miami market, Ian Margol was on the front lines of covering Hurricane Irma, with his reporting even featured on ABC News' Good Morning America. He traces his current career back to Emory's liberal arts curriculum.

News footage shows him sopping wet, speaking over the gale-force winds, all while trying to keep his mic dry enough to let the viewer know exactly what is happening as Hurricane Irma moves closer.

Most people would be miserable, but it’s exactly the opposite for Ian Margol 13C.

“I love it,” says Margol, a reporter in Miami. “I cover a little bit of everything and I get to learn every single day. And, Miami is even a little different from my previous jobs. Usually a general assignment reporter like me has to find the story and find the angle, but the difference is that, in Miami, the stories come to you.” 

Including Irma.

From Emory to Miami

When Margol walked across the Commencement stage to claim his diploma in May 2013, he had no job and no offers. But about six hours later, a call came from a small station in Western Colorado.

A few weeks after that, he found himself covering everything about small-town life in the Rockies. After a year of bison and city council meetings, Margol landed a spot at WSAV in Savannah, but the south Florida native wanted to head back home.

Just about a year ago, through a series of fortunate events and family connections combined with a hearty dose of talent, Margol found himself with a job offer at WPLG Local10, an ABC affiliate, in Miami.

Barely three years out of school, suddenly he was in the 16th biggest media market in the country, working as the youngest reporter at the station and the second youngest reporter in the entire market. 

When Hurricane Irma headed towards Florida, Margol was called back from vacation and spent the next 17 days traveling from Miami to Marathon and parts in between. He and his crew rolled south while the rest of the region was moving north, reporting on evacuation orders and the wind and rising tides.

“At a certain point we had to get out of the winds,” Margol recalls, but as soon as the barricades were lifted, they headed back. “In the Keys, lots of mobile homes just blew away. So many power lines and poles were just knocked down and piles of palm fronds were everywhere.”

Homing in

Traveling through south Florida reporting on a devastating hurricane is not even close to what Margol intended when he came to Emory as a first-year student.

“It’s really thanks to Emory’s firm commitment to liberal arts that I am where I am today,” says Margol. “I thought I wanted to do criminal psychology, but Emory is so insistent on diving into liberal arts other than your major.”

As a result, during his sophomore year, he took Sociology 101 with senior lecturer Tracy Scott, who also serves as director of Emory's Quality Enhancement Plan. And that same year, Margol enrolled in Journalism 201. He loved the class, and after a visit by a producer from the CBS newsmagazine "48 Hours," he was hooked. He changed gears, eventually graduating with a double major in both sociology and journalism.

Scott has followed Margol’s career since graduation and believes his career choice is fitting. 

“Ian has an openness to new ideas and an intellectual curiosity for learning things that challenged his own worldview,” she says. “He has a desire to understand others, especially those who are not like him. And he has such a joy and energy about him — those around him can't help but be lifted up by it.”

Continuing the Emory legacy

During his time at Emory, Margol was involved in Residence Life and Greek Life and served as an orientation leader captain. He’s continued his deep involvement as an alumnus. 

“I am a lot of legacy,” says Margol, now the vice president of the Boca-Ft. Lauderdale Emory Alumni Chapter. “Emory is huge in my family. My mom and dad, aunts and cousins, so many of them went to Emory. It’s already in me.

"I took so much from the experience, I feel like I need to give back," he continues. "I'm definitely in Miami until 2020 and after that, who knows, but Emory will be a part of it.”

Visit EmoryWire to learn more about Ian Margol and view a segment of his reporting that aired nationally on ABC's Good Morning America.