Events: Featured

Discussion with Adrian Walker and Evan Allen

March 7, 2024

Ann Silvio, Evan Allen, Adrian Walker, and Neil Swidey

On March 7, we welcomed Globe reporters Adrian Walker and Evan Allen to the Brandeis campus. The discussion focused on the remarkable podcast and narrative series they produced with their colleagues, reexamining the Carol DiMaiti Stuart murder three decades later. Neil Swidey and Ann Silvio kicked things off but soon handed the mic over to our journalism students, since they had no shortage of smart questions. It was a serious discussion, but Evan and Adrian's easy rapport also produced plenty of lighter moments. Photo by student Khimaya Bagla.

Q & A with Judy Woodruff

Oct. 14, 2023

In her October visit to the Brandeis campus, broadcast journalist Judy Woodruff reflected on the hyperpolarization affecting American politics and the growing fear among younger generations to share their opinions. Woodruff, who is best known as the long-time host of PBS NewsHour, shared her views in a wide-ranging Q&A moderated by Professors Neil Swidey and Ann Silvio that was part of Brandeis’ 75th Anniversary weekend. She also received the BNC Sachar Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement in education. 

When Woodruff first started as a reporter in the 1970s during the era of broadcast legends like Walter Cronkite and Huntley-Brinkley, her first producer said to her, “Just remember, Judy, nobody gives a damn what Judy Woodruff thinks.” His message to her was to always dig deep for information and cover the news straightforwardly without embellishing the piece with her own opinion. 

“That was drilled into me,” Woodruff recalled before a crowd of Brandeis journalism students as well as parents and alumni. The approach, she said, was “just get the facts, get them straight, spend your time worrying about whether you got it accurate or not – and if you don’t have all the story yet, make that clear.” She added: “Frankly, there’s never a time when we have all the final facts in a story. We need to be much more humble about that.”

During the earlier stages of her career, Woodruff faced a significant amount of sexism in the workplace, but she ultimately made a name for herself in broadcast journalism, interviewing the last nine presidents and countless other influential politicians.

Woodruff estimated that the culture of bipartisanship first began to break in America during the Nixon administration and continued to fragment throughout the Clinton and Bush administrations: “What we’re seeing today, you can point to former President Trump, you can point to others,” she said. “But this does have its roots in decades past.”

She also highlighted how the blurring of lines between cultural issues and political realms affect people’s attitudes toward political discourse. “Today, what’s cultural is what’s political,” she said. “All the forces in American politics today are driving us apart rather than together.” Consequently, younger generations are more afraid to speak in defense of their beliefs. 

In context to the ongoing war in Gaza, Woodruff emphasized how everyone’s personal connection to the conflict makes it even more different to report than other political conflicts. “We are mourning the terrible loss of life — the atrocities we’ve seen — and trying to understand: Where does it go from here?”

She urged students in the audience to pursue journalism and bring people together one person at a time. “There couldn’t be a more important profession to go into [...] What matters most in life is are you making a difference? Are you feeling like you’re making a contribution? Are you touching people’s lives?” To Woodruff, that relentless gathering of information and devotion to her audience is where the excitement of journalism lies.

Story by Anika Jain, Photo by Khimaya Bagla.

Marty Baron Richman Fellowship

March 15-17, 2023

Marty Baron stands at a podium as an audience looks on.

The Brandeis Journalism Program hosted Marty Baron, the retired editor of the Washington Post and a long-time editor at the Boston Globe and the Miami Herald, as Brandeis' 2023 Richman Fellow. While on campus, Baron attended a welcome lunch with Brandeis Journalism faculty, staff, and students; a screening of Spotlight, a biopic detailing the Boston Globe's investigation of the Catholic Church in the early 2000s under his leadership; and a discussion with the Ethics in Journalism course. He wrapped up his visit with a keynote lecture about objectivity in journalism. To read more about Baron's visit to Brandeis, check out the event coverage or watch the keynote recording.

Abortion: Past, Present & Future

Nov. 16, 2022

Margaret Talbot and Joshua Prager talk.

How have shame and secrecy affected conversations about abortion? Why is humanizing an issue so important when it comes to sensitive topics? Prominent journalists Margaret Talbot and Joshua Prager tackled these and other pressing questions during a “Brandeis Journalism Presents” forum on Nov. 16 in Schwartz Hall. Engaging with an auditorium full of wide-eyed Brandeis students, the two speakers spent the evening scrutinizing — through a journalistic lens — the country’s most polarizing issue of abortion.

Talbot, an award-winning staff writer for The New Yorker who has written extensively on reproductive rights, began the forum by weighing in on the role that abortion played in the midterm elections. “Abortion did turn out to be an issue that was voted on,” she said, “and journalism had a large effect on that.”

In his Pulitzer Prize-finalist book, "The Family Roe," Prager detailed the complex stories of the people at the center of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. For a long time, Prager said, pro-life politicians have been able to appeal to their base knowing that Roe was unlikely to be overturned. The midterm elections, he said, showed how much the political landscape has shifted since the high court overturned Roe in June. Many politicians, he said, “take the positions popular with voters, and then realize that they actually have to follow through.”

Fielding thoughtful questions from Brandeis students as well as moderators Ann Silvio and Neil Swidey — both Brandeis journalism professors — Talbot and Prager stressed the importance of telling the human stories at the center of the abortion issue. “One in four women will have an abortion,” Talbot said. “It is so common and so safe, yet is still so stigmatized. It is treated not as private, but as a secret.” She explained that privacy is more of a personal choice, while secrecy tends to hold more of a negative connotation. Because abortion stories tend to be “shrouded in secrecy,” she said, the public often doesn’t get the full picture.

Prager built off her idea, saying, “If you know someone who has had an abortion, you are more likely to be sympathetic towards someone else in their situation.” In the decade he spent researching his book, Prager said, he uncovered questionable behavior in both the prolife and prochoice movements. Although he acknowledged that he is personally pro-choice, he said it was important for him to share those unflattering aspects to both sides of the debate.

The overturning of Roe, Prager said, “has made people engaged, and that is a good thing. We should all be engaged and pay attention.” He once again addressed the future journalists in the room. “It is amazing to say, but it's true, you can help influence the national conversation, and together, we can make it a more honest one.”

Story by Brooke Reed, Photos by Jack Yuanwei Cheng

Students gather at the event.

Conversation with Gina McCarthy, Climate Czar

March 8, 2022

photograph of Gina McCarthyGina McCarthy, the top national climate official in the federal government, headlined a Brandeis Journalism webinar in March focused on how to improve communications and coverage of climate change. As the government’s first National Climate Advisor, McCarthy serves as President Joe Biden’s chief advisor on domestic climate policy and heads the White House office focused on mobilizing a whole-of-government approach to tackling the climate crisis and securing environmental justice.

She was in conversation with Neil Swidey, a professor of the practice and the director of the Brandeis Journalism Program. Swidey, who is also editor-at-large of The Boston Globe Magazine, wrote an in-depth magazine cover story in 2018 about McCarthy.

McCarthy, a Boston native who served five governors in both Democratic and Republican administrations, served as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under President Obama. A former professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, she serves as chair of the board of directors of the Harvard Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment.

This Brandeis forum took place from 3:30-4:30 p.m. March 8.

Photo of Blind Spot Team with Neil Swidey and Rachel RaczkaInvestigating Innovation: Boston Globe's "Blind Spot" Team

Nov. 15, 2021

Pulitzer-winning Globe team Team on the Brandeis Campus

On Monday, Nov. 15, the Journalism program hosted the team behind the Boston Globe's series "Blind Spot," which took home this year's Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. Reporters Evan Allen, Laura Crimaldi and project editor Brendan McCarthy presented in person on the Brandeis campus (with the team's two other reporters, Vernal Coleman and Matt Rocheleau, joining via Zoom). They discussed how they uncovered systemic government failures that led to dangerous — and sometimes deadly — consequences for drivers. And in turn, how their investigation led to reform. 

This project is an example of investigative multimedia journalism at its best. Heather Ciras, tdirector of Audience Experience, also joined the panel. Brandeis students had the valuable opportunity to ask questions of the journalists behind this Pulitzer win and hear about how dogged reporting and creative presentations can influence both public thought and government action.

Photo features the Boston Globe's newest Pulitzer Prize winners after the Nov. 15 Brandeis Journalism forum. From left: video producer Caitlin Healy; editors Brendan McCarthy and Scott Allen; director of audience engagement Heather Ciras; Brandeis Journalism director Neil Swidey and assistant director Rachel Raczka; reporters Laura Crimaldi and Evan Allen. (Photo by Noah Zeitlin)

Science Journalism & the Pandemic

March 3, 2021

A Brandeis Journalism Program Forum on the News Media’s Role in the Public Health Fight Against COVID – and Disinformation Around It

Featuring: Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Atul Gawande, and Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal

This webinar is in conjunction with Professor Swidey's Spring 2021 Journalism course 130b: Science Journalism, the Pandemic, and Disinformation.

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci is the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Chief Medical Advisor on COVID-19 to President Biden.
  • Dr. Atul Gawande is both a staff writer for The New Yorker, and a surgeon at Brigham and Women's, as well as the author of several books on health care in the United States, including Being Mortal.
  • Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal is is the Editor-in-Chief of Kaiser Health News and an Opinion writer for the New York Times. Her latest book is: An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back.
Science Journalism and the Pandemic: A Forum of the Brandeis Journalism Program Featuring Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Atul Gawande, and Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal

Video: Science Journalism and the Pandemic