The Donald Murray Visiting Journalist Program
The Donald Murray Visiting Journalist Program is named in honor of the late Donald Murray, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer who started the UNH journalism program in 1963. Terry Williams ’80, publisher of the Telegraph of Nashua, led the fundraising drive for the program, with primary support coming from The McLean Contributionship and from UNH journalism alumni. Sponsored by the journalism program, the Donald Murray Visiting Journalist Program brings accomplished alumni journalists to campus each year for week-long residencies during which they conduct classes, work with students and student media, and give a public lecture.
2019 Visiting Journalist: Ella Nilsen ’09
Whether she’s exploring the security clearances of high-level White House officials or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s stand on impeaching the president, UNH alumna Ella Nilsen ’09 finds one of the best parts of her job as politics and policy reporter for Vox is figuring out how what she covers affects people’s lives.
“Vox does more than just reporting the news as it happens. My job as a reporter for Vox is to give our readers context and explain why this news matters,” says Nilsen, who covers Congress and the Democrats for Vox.
“Doing the necessary reporting and writing a lengthy piece on deadline is challenging, but can also be rewarding. It’s especially helpful when reporting out something I’m not as familiar with. Answering my basic questions also helps answer the questions of readers.”
Nilsen will talk about “Finding Unique Stories and Building Sources on Capitol Hill and the Campaign Trail” on Tuesday, April 2 at 5 p.m. in MUB Theater I. The talk is free and open to the public.
Nilsen will visit campus as the 2019 Donald M. Murray Visiting Journalist. She will speak in classes and meet with the staff of The New Hampshire.
Nilsen is originally from Dalton, NH and graduated from UNH with a major in history and minors in writing and in Asian Studies. While at UNH she wrote for Main Street Magazine, worked as a design editor there and served as editor-in-chief her senior year. She credits her time at Main Street for making her want to pursue journalism as a career.
After college she interned at New Hampshire Public Radio and worked at Foster’s Daily Democrat. Her first fulltime job was at The Keene Sentinel, where she covered health and the city of Keene. She moved on to the Concord Monitor where she covered health and education, moving onto their politics team during the 2016 New Hampshire primary. She ended up covering the campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, and was the one reporter who covered the 2016 Democratic Convention for the Monitor.
She worked at the Monitor for two and a half years before moving to Vox, where she started out doing the daily email newsletter Vox Sentences and some general assignment reporting before moving up to the U.S. Congress team. She reported on the 2018 midterm elections and now primarily covers House Democrats on Capitol Hill. And she’s also “gearing up to cover 2020, which seems to be starting earlier than ever.”
Past Visiting Journalists
“Journalists are in the unique position of having front row seats to history as it unfolds. Journalists also have the immense responsibility of holding those in positions of power accountable and, in my case, bringing visibility to LGBT rights activists and movements throughout the world.”
So Michael Lavers, UNH ’04, describes the work he does for the Washington Blade, the oldest LGBT newspaper in the United States covering gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender news around the world.
Lavers, international editor for the Blade and the 2018 Donald M. Murray Visiting Journalist, will give a talk entitled “Covering LGBT rights abroad and the broader global context” on Tuesday, April 3 at 5 p.m.in MUB Theater I. The talk is free and open to the public.
In his talk, Lavers plans to highlight his reporting on Cuba's LGBT rights movement within the context of the evolving status of relations between the U.S. and Cuba; his recent trip to Puerto Rico that highlighted the aftermath of Hurricane Maria and its continued impact on the island's LGBT community; and what it’s like to cover the global LGBT rights movement during the Trump administration.
Lavers will be on campus throughout that week, speaking in journalism classes and meeting with staff of The New Hampshire.
“The best part of my job,” says Lavers, “is the fact that I get to speak with activists in countries around the world who trust me to share their stories. The most challenging part of my job is the fact that I get to speak with activists in countries around the world who trust me to share their stories.
For example, when Lavers planned an interview with two transgender women from a city where four trans women were killed in February 2017, he hoped to meet them somewhere in that city. But gang violence made it too dangerous to report from there. Instead, Lavers invited the women to the Salvadoran capital and interviewed them at a local mall over lunch.
Lavers interviewed a Cuban LGBT activist – someone who publicly criticizes his country's government -- at his home near Cienfuegos, Cuba, in May 2017. Cuban authorities had placed the activist under surveillance, and it soon became apparent that Lavers too had been placed under surveillance. A Cuban police officer stopped him on the road about an hour after he left the activist’s home and checked his passport, press visa and other documents. The Cuban government earlier in the day had called the owner of the house in which Lavers was staying.
“Many of the stories that I cover are difficult,” says Lavers. “Many of the people with whom I have the honor of speaking are in very difficult situations. One of the challenges of the type of reporting that I do is to do everything possible to cover them in a way that is respectful, responsible, humane and ethnical.
“Another challenge that I face while reporting abroad is to take some time to enjoy a particular country from which I am reporting. In other words, it's okay to have fun because reporting from abroad can be really fun.”
Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since 2012 and the newspaper’s international news editor since June 2015.
He has reported from the Deep South, the United Nations, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Israel, the West Bank and more than a dozen other countries and territories in Latin America and around the world. He has also appeared on Al Jazeera, BBC, Sirius XM, Telemundo and other English and Spanish-language media outlets to discuss LGBT-specific issues.
Lavers graduated from the University of New Hampshire with degrees in journalism and Spanish. He grew up in Manchester, N.H., and currently lives in Dupont Circle with his partner.
The Visiting Journalist program is sponsored by the UNH Journalism Program, the UNH English Department, the Telegraph of Nashua, and the McLean Contributionship.
Journalist Matthew T. Hall, UNH ’94, says it’s no longer true that a journalist’s job is done once a story is published.
“Now, publication means the work is just getting started,” says Hall, editorial and opinion director at the San Diego Union-Tribune. “In an age when random Twitter eggs can give you grief at all hours of the day and the president of the United States calls prominent media outlets ‘the enemy of the American people,’ being a journalist means being on all the time, promoting and defending your work whenever your phone is near, which – let’s be honest – is all the time.
“How we handle criticism is an increasingly important part of the job. A journalist’s credibility has never been more crucial – to the individual journalist, to the industry and to our audience.”
Hall, the 2017 Donald M. Murray Visiting Journalist, will discuss this and other matters in a talk titled ”At work, not war: “Trump, trolls, truth and trust” on Tuesday, April 4 at 5 p.m. in MUB Theater I. The talk is free and open to the public.
Hall will be on campus throughout that week, speaking in journalism classes and meeting with the staff of The New Hampshire.
The Visiting Journalist program is sponsored by the UNH Journalism Program, the UNH English Department, the Telegraph of Nashua, and the McLean Contributionship.
Hall has worked at the Union-Tribune since 2001. He manages the Ideas and Opinion section, writing and editing editorials, and overseeing op-ed commentary, letters to the editor and a blog called “The Conversation,” which uses social media and the internet to report the news of the day in immersive, dynamic and often funny ways.
He previously managed the newsroom’s social media, compiled its Essential California newsletter and created and wrote “The Conversation.”
Before that, he was a metro columnist who wrote four columns a week and a reporter who covered San Diego neighborhoods, city politics, the Chargers’ stadium search, the Padres’ TV fiasco and east and north San Diego County.
He has been named blogger, feature writer and critic of the year by the San Diego chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and blogger and columnist of the year by the San Diego Press Club. He has worked at other newspapers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and California.
He is a Red Sox fan, past president of the San Diego chapter of SPJ, a proud winner of its Herbert Lockwood “Woody” Award for humor writing and western region director for the national board of SPJ. He is married to a fellow journalist, and they have two daughters. He’s probably on Twitter right now at @SDuncovered, where he’ll gladly respond to your tweet.
Marcus Weisgerber ’04 says what first drew him to covering the Pentagon was that fact that he could work in the nation’s capital.
“At first, it was just a journalism job in Washington,” says Weisgerber. “I knew little about the military and absolutely nothing about the bureaucracy that runs it, but it seemed like an incredibly important beat, particularly at a time when two wars were being fought. It didn’t take long before I realized my stories were having an impact and influencing policy decisions inside the Pentagon.”
Weisgerber, the global business reporter for Defense One, is the 2016 Donald M. Murray Journalist. He will give a talk titled “How ISIS is Changing the Way Journalists Cover War” on Tuesday, March 1 at 5 p.m. in MUB I.
While on campus he will visit journalism classes and meet with the staff of The New Hampshire.
The biggest challenge of his job, says Weisgerber, is “tracking down information within an establishment that is culturally secretive. Getting people trust you and building trusted relationships with sources is key to success. Also, learning new information every day. There are so many layers to the military, learning the subcultures, which means learning new things every day.’
He adds that one of the best things about his job is “Getting to write articles that have impact on everything from foreign policy to military spending levels – all issues that could impact millions of people. And because no two days are ever alike. Getting to see corners of the world I would never have dreamed of seeing isn’t so bad either.”
The Journalism Program alum has reported from Afghanistan, the Middle East, Europe and Asia, and often travels with the defense secretary and other senior U.S. military officials. He writes about global military operations, arms sales and policy.
He is the vice president of the Pentagon Press Association. He has appeared on CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, NPR, BBC World Service, WABC, WBAL, WJLA, Monocle 24 and other nationally syndicated television and radio programs.
Before joining Defense One, Weisgerber was senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News and chief editor of Inside the Air Force.
While at Foster’s Daily Democrat, Weisgerber embedded with the New Hampshire National Guard covering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina from New Orleans.
His work has been published in Newsday, Yahoo! Sports, Air Force Magazine and Flight International.
Weisgerber lives in Washington where he still plays hockey.
"Mashable is a growing media company that is developing new and innovative ways to tell news stories across several digital platforms. For me, it was an opportunity to join a team that is still relatively small, and work to build out the news gathering processes around breaking international news and really define the way we tell stories."
So says Megan Specia, UNH ’09, the Donald M. Murray Visiting Journalist for 2015. Specia is a journalist based in New York City, working as the assistant real time editor for Mashable, reporting on national and international breaking news. She joined the Mashable team in September 2014 and has covered major stories such as the ongoing Ferguson protests, Islamic State incursion in Iraq and Syria, and the Charlie Hebdo attacks.
Specia will give a talk titled "Redefining Real Time Journalism in the Digital Age" on Tuesday, April 7 at 5 p.m. in MUB Theater I. The talk is free and open to the public.
"We are always trying to find new angles and less traditional approaches to covering major events," says Specia of her work at Mashable. "Social media allows newfound access to international news from those closest to the story, so much of my work centers around harnessing and verifying that information, and pulling it together in a way that is compelling for our audience.
"We also like to have a little bit of fun and bring a fresh take on the traditional forms of storytelling."
Specia has appeared as a commentator on HLN and Fox Business and has a passion for social news gathering and human rights.
Prior to joining Mashable, Specia lived in Ireland for four years. She worked for the Dublin-based news organization Storyful for over three years, discovering and verifying user generated content coming from all corners of the globe, and was a part of the start-up prior to its acquisition by NewsCorp. While there, she worked in the newsrooms of Yahoo, ABC, and VICE to optimize the use of socially sourced content and information.
Specia is a New Jersey native and graduated from the University of New Hampshire in May of 2009, with a dual honors degree in Journalism and Communication.
During her April visit to UNH she give talks in journalism classes and meet with the staff of The New Hampshire.
University of Maine System schools struggling financially, even though the System has a reserve fund totaling $177 million. U.S. taxpayers giving tax breaks to manufacturers of assault rifles used in mass killings. A bail system that allows “potential conflicts of interest by bail commissioners being paid by the people whose bail they set.”
These stories and many more have been uncovered by the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, a non-profit investigative news service based in the state’s capitol, Augusta. The center’s editor-in-chief, UNH alumnus John Christie, ’70, will come to UNH this spring as the 2014 Donald M. Murray Visiting Journalist.
Christie will be on campus March 31 through April 4 speaking in classes and meeting with The New Hampshire staff. On Tuesday, April 1 he will give a talk titled “Leaving journalism’s false god behind.” The talk will be held in MUB Theater at 5 p.m. and will be free and open to the public.
Christie co-founded the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting in 2009 with his wife, Naomi Schalit. He says there were two reasons for starting the center.
“The first was personal,” he says. “After a few decades of being an editor and publisher, I was about to retired and could do anything I wanted. I realized what gave me the most satisfaction was writing, especially enterprise and investigative stories about government.
“The second was public service,” Christie adds. “The decline of the news business has mean a decline in investigative reporting. Independent reporting that holds government accountable is the justification for our special status in the Bill of Rights. Our business is failing in that role and I wanted to do what I could to fill that gap.”
Christie has served as the center’s publisher and senior reporter. Since the center was founded, Christie, Schalit and center interns have written more than 150 stories “holding state and local government accountable.”
“Our reporting has led to tightening state ethics laws, improving the bail system for domestic violence cases, news rules for granting no-bid contracts and repairing the state’s pension system.
“We have exposed the state running roughshod over the democratic process to fast-track industrial wind development, the “secret budget” for tax breaks for businesses and a dismal record of safety inspections of the state’s dams.”
All the center’s stories are distributed free to all the media in the state and on its website, pinetreewatch.org.
Christie is a media veteran whose 40-year career includes work in Massachusetts, Maine, and Florida as a writer, editor, general manager and publisher for newspapers owned by Tribune Co., Dow Jones and Co. and the Seattle Times Co.
He has won numerous awards as a reporter and editor, including twice for best public service reporting in New England from the AP, and he was the primary editor at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel of two Pulitzer Prize finalists.
Christie was one of the first journalists to serve as a full-time training editor for a newspaper, a position that included coaching writers and editors on their craft and creating a news writing program for high school and college minority students.
Christie, a native of Dover, N.H., learned the craft of writing and coaching writers as an undergraduate at the University of New Hampshire, where he was a student of Professor Donald M. Murray and managing editor of The New Hampshire.
He is the editor of four books, including a bestselling book on Hurricane Andrew. His freelance work has appeared in the Boston Globe, Boston Phoenix, Boston magazine, Yankee magazine and elsewhere. He has spoken on newspaper management and writing in the United States, Europe and South America.
In 2009, he retired after nine years as the president and publisher of Central Maine Newspapers, which publishes two daily papers, the Kennebec Journal and the Morning Sentinel. The retirement lasted only a few months when he founded the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting.
His industry service includes the following: visiting faculty at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies; past president of the Massachusetts State House Correspondents Association; past president of Maine Newspaper Publishers Association; and the journalism advisory board at Florida International University.
Chris Outcalt, ’06, knows firsthand the challenges journalists face today.
Those challenges include “questions about the viability of journalism as a business, questions about the relevance of print products, questions about how best to ‘go digital’ and even questions about the legitimacy of our work,” he says.
But the biggest challenge of all, Outcalt says, is “actually learning the craft of journalism.”
“It’s not that those other ‘future of journalism’ questions aren’t important – they are, and I always try to think critically about the future of journalism,” says Outcalt.
“But I don’t think there’s an answer to these contemporary questions about journalism that doesn’t include elements of quality reporting and quality storytelling. Quality. To me that’s the key.
“So ironically, I think the biggest challenge journalists face is one they’ve always faced: learning how to be good reporters and good storytellers.”
Outcalt, an assistant editor at 5280 Magazine in Denver, Colorado, will give a talk entitled “Good stories have a soul, and other things I’ve learned as a journalist” Tuesday, April 9 at 5 p.m. in MUB Theater I. The talk is free and open to the public.
As the Donald Murray Visiting Journalist for 2013, Outcalt will also visit journalism classes April 8-11.
Outcalt writes and edits a variety of pieces for 5280 Magazine and for 5280.com on such topics as business, real estate, travel and the environment.
His Nov. 2010 narrative feature investigated the first murder in three decades in Vail, a posh ski resort town in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. This past year, Outcalt co-wrote a feature-length piece that examined the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing.
A native of upstate New York, Outcalt started his career at the York Weekly and went on the work for the Portsmouth Herald. He has also reported for weekly and daily newspapers in Colorado. Outcalt has received multiple awards for his work, including being named “Rookie of the Year” by the New Hampshire Press Association in 2007.
The Donald Murray Visiting Journalist Program is named in honor of the late Donald Murray, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer who started the UNH journalism program in 1963. Terry Williams ’80, publisher of the Telegraph of Nashua, led the fundraising drive for the program, with primary support coming from The McLean Contributionship and from UNH journalism alumni. Sponsored by the Journalism Program, the Donald Murray Visiting Journalist Program brings accomplished alumni journalists to campus each year for week-long residencies during which they conduct classes, work with students and student media, and give a public lecture. Recent visiting alums include Pulitzer Prize wining Kevin Sullivan '81, Dana Jennings, ’80, of The New York Times and Chelsea Conaboy,’04, of Boston.com and the Boston Globe.
The program is sponsored by the UNH Journalism Program, the UNH English Department, the Telegraph of Nashua, and the McLean Contributionship.
As a UNH journalism intern at the Lewiston (Maine) Sun Journal, Chelsea Conaboy, Class of 2004, saw dramatic change going on in Lewiston. Somali refugees, seeking jobs, cheaper housing and a community, were moving there from resettlement cities in the area. Not all city residents were welcoming to their new neighbors. The newspaper, she says, played a huge role in documenting the change and getting people to understand one another.
“Reporters there told stories about where refugees came from and how they got there. They dispelled rumors – was it really true that refugees got free health care for life, or that most of them drove without a license – and they shined light on racist reactions from people in the city and from ‘away.’
“Lewiston’s story has always stuck with me, as an example of the critical role newspapers play in explaining ‘the others,’ whoever they may be to whichever group of readers,” Conaboy says.
Conaboy will discuss her journalism experiences in a talk entitled, "10 years in a newsroom: The things I've found worth fighting for" on Wednesday, April 11 at 5 p.m. in MUB Theatre I. The talk is free and open to the public.
As the Donald Murray Visiting Journalist for 2012, Conaboy will also visit UNH journalism classes April 9-12.
Conaboy writes about Boston’s medical history, state and national health care policy, and advancements in medical research for the White Coat Notes blog on Boston.com and for The Boston Globe.
As a journalist covering health issues, Conaboy has faced many challenges.
“I don’t have a background in science or health care,” Conaboy says. “So perhaps the biggest challenge of being a health reporter has been learning the basics of the subject area. That’s the challenge of any beat, but not all beats involved so much statistical analysis. I’ve had to learn how to read and translate medical research and to understand it well enough to know when not to write about it.
“There’s a lot of money in health care, which means there’s a lot of spin: studies that purport to show something they don’t, researchers who have a financial stake in the products or services they are studying, health care solutions in search of a problem…so differentiating between what spokespeople for hospitals and doctors say is a story and what is actually a story has been a challenge. Fortunately, I have a lot of experienced colleagues at the Globe willing to share what they know.
In addition to writing for the blog, Conaboy keeps up with other new media.
“The biggest challenge is managing my energy,” she says. “I write regularly for the paper, post to the blog multiple times a day, and manage social media tools. Figuring out how to do a good job at all of those things, and keep up with changing technology, is hard. So is maintaining quality work under pressure to produce more and to drive readers to Boston.com. I think that’s where the principles I learned at UNH kick in. I return a lot to what I learned there about objectivity and quality journalism and integrity in storytelling, and I think the strong foundation I built at UNH has helped me to stick to those principles under pressure.”
Conaboy, previously a business and health reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, started her journalism career at the Concord Monitor. She graduated in 2004 from UNH with a triple major in Spanish, international affairs and journalism, and she spent the following summer as a writing and reporting fellow at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla. Conaboy was recognized by state and regional press associations in eight consecutive years, most recently by the New Jersey Press Association for a story about the mortgage crisis in that state. She received multiple awards for her work on a five-part series about a Concord woman dying of a rare cancer and her family’s struggle to redefine itself after her death.
Pulitzer Prize-winner Kevin Sullivan has covered wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, economic meltdown in Japan and the horrors of the Mexican criminal justice system, and has chatted with the King of Pop and the queen of England.
Sullivan, UNH Class of ’81, will discuss those experiences and more in a talk entitled “Do I Look Scared To You? An Optimist's View of Modern Journalism” on Tuesday, Feb. 22 at 4:30 p.m. in MUB Theatre I on the University of New Hampshire campus. The event is free and open to the public.
As the Donald Murray Visiting Journalist for 2011, Sullivan, who is Sunday and features editor for The Washington Post, will also visit UNH journalism classes Feb. 21-24.
Though he’s seen many changes in journalism over the past 32 years, Sullivan believes two things are still true: Journalism is an exciting way to make a living, and our society needs good journalists.
“We use different tools now, but we're still practicing the same core skills of journalism: reporting, writing, telling stories, informing, unearthing, enlightening--and sometimes entertaining,” said Sullivan. “We provide important and useful information. We tell stories people need to hear.
“Yes, times are changing. Yes, print is struggling. But no matter how the technology evolves, news organizations from The Washington Post to Patch to whatever other organization pops up before dinner still need smart journalists to provide information and stories to help them rise above all the noise. Change is unsettling, but it should still be an exciting time to be a young journalist.”
Sullivan was a Post foreign correspondent for 14 years. Sullivan and his wife, Mary Jordan, were the Post's co-bureau chiefs in Tokyo from 1995 to 1999, Mexico City from 2000 to 2005, and London from 2005 to 2009. Sullivan then served as deputy foreign editor and foreign editor.
He and Jordan won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for their coverage of the Mexican criminal justice system. They, with four Post photographers, were finalists for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for a series of stories about difficulties facing women around the world. They also won the George Polk Award in 1998 for coverage of the Asian Financial Crisis, as well as awards from the Overseas Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists.
Sullivan has reported on six continents from more than 70 countries. He was raised in Maine and graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 1981.
Sullivan didn’t come to UNH planning to become a journalist.
"Don Murray got me into journalism," he says. "A friend had taken his intro journalism class and couldn't stop talking about his fantastic professor, who looked like Santa Claus, talked like a Marine and had a Pulitzer Prize. I had never thought about journalism (I had never thought about much more than hockey and baseball, truth be told), but I knew I loved to write.
"So I signed up for Don's class, and after about 15 minutes with that man, I was hooked. If Don Murray was what journalism was all about, I needed to be part of that. That was 32 years ago, and I've never looked back."
During his time at the Post, Sullivan studied Japanese and East Asian affairs at Georgetown University in 1994-95 and studied Spanish and Latin American affairs as a John S. Knight fellow at Stanford University in 1999-2000.
Sullivan joined the Post in 1991 after working at the Providence Journal in Rhode Island and the Gloucester Daily Times in Massachusetts.
Sullivan and Jordan are also the authors of The Prison Angel: Mother Antonia's Journey from Beverly Hills to a Life of Service in a Mexican Jail. The book won the 2006 Christopher Award, which honors works "that affirm the highest values of the human spirit."
Sullivan and Jordan have two children and live in Washington.
When Dana Jennings, '80, learned that he had prostate cancer two years ago, he did what any self-respecting journalist would do: he wrote about it. A reporter for The New York Times, he began a column for the newspaper's blog Well, submitting essays every few weeks about his treatment, his thoughts, and his recovery. Soon his entries were receiving hundreds of readers' responses. Two of the columns were so lauded that they were selected to appear in "The Best American Medical Writing 2009."
Learning to write for a new medium - the Internet - at the age of 51 after dedicating the previous 30 years to writing everything from newspaper columns to magazine features to novels, struck Jennings as both "strange and interesting." The bottom line, he says, is that he was just following the advice of his mentor, writing legend and UNH professor Don Murray: "Write about what makes you different."
Jennings will honor his mentor next month when he returns to the University of New Hampshire as the 2010 Donald Murray Visiting Journalist. In this role, Jennings will visit UNH journalism classes during the week of April 5-9, 2010, meet with The New Hampshire staff, and present a talk titled "My Brief Life as a Woman: a Veteran Journalist-turns Cancer Blogger" at 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 6 in MUB Theatre II. The event is free and open to the public.
The University of New Hampshire Journalism Program welcomes Steve Damish ’83 as the Donald Murray Visiting Journalist for 2009. In this role, Damish, the managing editor of The Enterprise in Brockton, Mass., will visit UNH journalism classes during the week of March 23-27 and present a talk titled “Journalism - It's (still) a Wonderful Life” at 5 p.m., Tuesday, March 24, in MUB Theatre I. The event is free and open to the public.
Despite the challenges the print media faces in this era of online competition, Damish contends that never before have newspaper reporters and editors had more reach, more impact, more say - or more fun doing their jobs. In his talk, Damish will explain why, more than ever, news organizations need properly trained journalists, that newspaper reporters and editors are not facing extinction, but are instead in the midst of an evolution - one that will reward those with the ability to endure and adapt.
In his 25 years of working as a newspaper reporter and editor, Damish has received more than two dozen national and regional awards for everything from humor writing to column writing to investigative reporting. In 2007, Damish was named the New England Newspaper Association Journalist of the Year for "Wasted Youth," a series of stories he co-wrote and edited that exposed the OxyContin and heroin epidemic among young adults in southeastern Massachusetts. The series also earned Damish a variety of other national and regional honors, including four first-place national prizes and two second place honors in column writing, investigative reporting, community service, and feature writing. "Wasted Youth" was named a national finalist for public service reporting by The Associated Press Managing Editors organization, and earned first place for health reporting, social issues reporting, investigative series, general news coverage and Web reporting by The New England Press Association. The series was also featured as the centerpiece for an A&E documentary called "Intervention In-Depth: Heroin Hits Home."
Most important to Damish is that the series prompted changes in how New England and federal agencies deal with youth addiction.
In addition, the follow up to "Wasted Youth," "Wasted Youth - Deadly Surge," earned first place in the Community Service Award in the 2008 Suburban Newspapers of America competition. "Deadly Surge" also won first place for "Best In-Depth" reporting.
One of UNH's most visible alums, Natalie Jacobson '65, spent the week of March 24 on campus as the Donald Murray Visiting Journalist. Natalie retired in 2007 from WCVB-TV, Channel 5 in Boston, where she had worked since the station went on the air in 1972. As the first female evening news anchor in Boston, she covered nearly every major event in recent New England history.
During a week in which the journalism faculty and 175 majors did their best to deplete her impressive energy, Natalie repeatedly reminded students of journalism's crucial role in democracy and urged them to uphold high standards even when others do not. "I would suggest," she told the students, "that you begin by choosing one thing that needs fixing, and fix it."
Before Barbara Walsh graduated from UNH in 1981, she flunked one of her journalism classes because she missed a deadline. So when she returned to spend the week of April 16, 2007, on campus as the Donald Murray Visiting Journalist , she titled her public talk “From Failure to Pulitzer."
In fact, the Pulitzer Prize is only the beginning of the list of awards Barbara has received. A passion for fairness and giving voice to the voiceless has propelled her career. In 10 years at the Portland Press Herald, her work launched state and federal investigations, changed laws, sparked fundraisers and public action meetings, and altered people's attitudes toward teenagers, the poor, and the mentally ill. Her projects involved such subjects as alcohol abuse, rural poverty, mental health care for children, domestic violence and teen suicide.
Barbara was one of two principal reporters at the Lawrence, Mass., Eagle Tribune who worked on a year-long series about Willie Horton Jr., a convicted killer and furlough escapee whose crimes drew attention to the flawed Massachusetts prison system. The series won a 1988 Pulitzer Prize.
“The Horton story taught me how much power and responsibility journalists have,” Barbara told the group gathered for her speech. “In the decades since, I have learned how stories can transform lives and inform people about what is going on in their town, their state and their country. I’ve learned that people and politicians will react to these stories, that they’ll demand change and make change if you tell them why these stories matter.”
After winning the Pulitzer in Massachusetts, Barbara moved to Florida, where she covered courts and social services for seven years for the Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale. Moving to Portland in 1996, she began investigating major social issues. In 1997 she was part of a four-person team that produced "The Deadliest Drug: Maine's Addiction to Alcohol," a series that resulted in dozens of public forums around the state in which citizens brainstormed ways to solve the problems. In 1999 her series "A Stolen Soul," about a woman's struggle to bring her son's murderer to justice, won the national Dart Award for excellence in reporting on victims of violence.
In 2000 and 2001 Barb spent 15 months interviewing hundreds of Maine teenagers for a series of print and online pieces called "On the Verge." She held pizza parties for kids, gave them disposable cameras to record their lives, and generally immersed herself in their world to become "as invisible as a 40-year-old pregnant woman could," she says. "On the Verge" won the Casey Medal, the top national prize for coverage of children and families. It also received an honorable mention for the Batten Award for excellence in civic journalism; the Pew Center called the stories "a stunningly framed and written series about teens that broke free of stereotypes."
In 2003 Barbara won more awards for "Castaway Children: Maine's Most Vulnerable Kids," which showed the need for more children's mental health services in Maine. The stories led to hearings and legislative changes at both the state and federal levels. The series won the national Anna Quindlen Award for Excellence in Journalism in Behalf of Children and Families, given by the Child Welfare League of America, as well as the first media award given by the New England Juvenile Defender's Center. It was also a finalist for the Casey Medal and the Missouri Lifestyle Journalism Award. These projects and others -- including "Death Too Soon," on youth suicide, and "Crisis in the Courts" on the way faulty record-keeping deters justice -- have also won numerous state and regional awards and led to many local initiatives.
Barbara and her husband, journalist Eric Conrad, and their two daughter live in Maine, where Barbara now focuses on freelance writing. She is working on a book about the Newfoundland fishing community and an infamous storm that killed four members of her extended family. She is also writing a children's book.
Jackie MacMullan '82, sports columnist and associate editor of the Boston Globe, spent the week of March 20, 2006, on campus as the second Donald Murray Visiting Journalist. Like her predecessor in the visiting journalist program, Ron Winslow of the Wall Street Journal, she spoke in all the journalism classes, met with students and give a talk open to the community.
Jackie started writing for the Globe right after her UNH graduation, then left the paper for a while and returned in January 2002. She's also a correspondent for WHDH-TV (Channel 7) in Boston and for New England Sports Network (NESN), and she appears occasionally on the ESPN program "Around the Horn."
In her years at the Globe, Jackie has covered events including the 1986 World Series, the 1987 Stanley Cup Finals and the 1988 Olympic Games, as well as numerous Final Four tournaments and NBA championships. She collaborated with Larry Bird on his biography Bird Watching, and with Connecticut women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma on Geno: In Pursuit of Perfection, which came out in January 2006.
From 1995 to 2000, Jackie was a senior writer for Sports Illustrated, covering the National Basketball Association. From 1996 to 1999, she was a regular contributor to CNN/SI, the 24-hour news network. She has won national writing awards from the Associated Press Sports Editors, including first place for investigative reporting in 1993 and feature writing in 1994. She received the Tufts University Distinguished Achievement Award in 1995, was named the New England Women's Leadership Award recipient in 1997, was named the New Fund Hall of Fame media recipient in 2000, was inducted into the UNH Hall of Honor in 2001, and was honored by the Institute of Study and Sport in Society in 2003 as its Hero in Sport winner.
While at UNH, from which she graduated cum laude, Jackie played four years of basketball, leading the team in scoring as a sophomore and serving as a team captain in her senior year. She was the recipient of both the Robert Perry Student-Athlete Award and the Dean Williamson Award, given to the student who "excels in scholarship, athletics and loyalty to the University.''
She is involved in a number of charitable endeavors, among them the Huntington's Disease Society of America, for whom she served as national spokesperson in 2000, the New England Sports Museum, the New England Hemophilia Association and the Colonel Daniel Marr Boys & Girls Club. Jackie and her husband, Michael Boyle, have two children, 13 and 9.
Jackie's fan club at UNH, already huge, swelled to epic proportions during her week on campus. Despite her unvarnished presentation of the realities of the sportswriting life -- night and weekend work, missed family events, absurdly tight deadlines -- hordes of students still say they want to be Jackie when they graduate. Even those of us who aren't sports fans were wowed by her passion, dogged reporting and graceful writing.
Ron Winslow's week-long residency on campus in October 2004 inaugurated the new Donald Murray Visiting Journalist Program, which gives UNH journalism students the chance to benefit from the expertise of the program's distinguished alumni.
Ron has two titles at the Wall Street Journal: deputy news editor for health and science, and senior medical and health care writer. From 1978 to 1983 he was a journalism professor at UNH. During his 2004 visiting journalist stint, we kept Ron plenty busy. He spoke in every journalism class, held office hours, met with the editors of The New Hampshire, and gave a talk titled "The Bleeding Edge: A Journalist's Perspective on the Health Care Wars" that attracted lots of students, faculty, community members and Don Murray himself.
Among the long list of things that journalism students report learning from Ron: You can be a hotshot journalist and be nice. You can stay a Red Sox fan while living in New York. There's no substitute for deep, detailed reporting. You can use lots of numbers and technical info and still make people and plot the center of your work. Thanks to Ron, STORIFY, the Journal's word for finding the people who will bring an issue to life, is now firmly entrenched in the journalism-course lexicon in Ham Smith.
Ron's week as the first visiting journalist turned out to be a miracle of timing. A lifetime Red Sox fan, he got to watch on TV from a bar in Portsmouth as the Sox won the Series . . . during a lunar eclipse . . . on his birthday. Ron's wife, Larkin, reports that he was standing on a table and screaming. Ron claims it was only a bench.