Middlebury

New York Times Managing Editor Jill Abramson to speak on "The Assault on Journalism," Oct. 17

September 28, 2005

MIDDLEBURY, Vt.?On Monday, Oct. 17, at 8 p.m. in Twilight Hall at Middlebury College, journalist and New York Times Managing Editor Jill Abramson will present a lecture titled "The Assault on Journalism." The event, the annual Robert W. van de Velde Jr. '75 Memorial Lecture, is free and open to the public.    

Jill AbramsonJill Abramson was appointed managing editor of The New York Times in August 2003. Since joining the paper in 1997, she has forged an impressive career as a talented and persistent journalist - from her early experience as an editor in the Washington bureau to her leadership as the bureau chief. Previously, she served as deputy bureau chief in Washington and investigative reporter for The Wall Street Journal. From 1986 to 1988, she was editor in chief of Legal Times, a weekly Washington newspaper.

In her lecture, Abramson will discuss how recent legal developments have made the jobs of investigative reporters much harder, leading confidential sources to worry that they can no longer count on journalists to protect their identities. She will give a historical overview of the central role of confidential sources in recent American journalism and the vital public interest at stake in this unfavorable trend. She also will review cases in which journalists from The New York Times and other news organizations face compelled testimony, and she will describe changes in the legal landscape and political climate that help explain the surge in these cases. More broadly, she will discuss changes in the media business and the fragmentation of journalism that has undermined the authority of the traditional mainstream media as well as creating new energy and opportunities for journalism on the Internet.

A native New Yorker, Abramson graduated magna cum laude from Harvard and received a Bachelor of Arts in history and literature. She is co-author of "Strange Justice," published by Houghton Mifflin in 1994 and selected as a nonfiction finalist for the National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award, and "Where They are Now," published by Doubleday in 1986. In 1992, she won the National Press Club award for national correspondence on political coverage of money and politics. In the fall of 2000, she taught an undergraduate seminar on politics and journalism at Princeton University.

The annual Robert W. van de Velde Jr. '75 Memorial Lecture was established in 1981 by his parents, R.W. and Barbara van de Velde; his widow, Diana Mooney van de Velde; and other family members and friends. The lecture series provides an annual talk on the confluence of public affairs - both foreign and domestic - and journalism, particularly broadcast journalism.

Previous speakers in the series have included former Gov. of Vermont Madeleine Kunin, personal finance columnist and author Jane Bryant Quinn of the class of 1960, Pulitzer Prize-winner David Moats, Montpelier Associated Press Bureau Chief Christopher Graff of the class of 1975, and Pulitzer Prize-winner Walter Mears of the class of 1956.

Twilight Auditorium is located on College Street (Route 125). For more information, contact Cathy Bilodeau, assistant to the president, at 802-443-5131 or bilodeau@middlebury.edu.