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Journalist speaks at University

Ryan Sydlik | Wednesday, November 29, 2006

As part of Notre Dame’s continuing push to bring top names in journalism to campus, Jill Abramson, managing editor of The New York Times, was a guest of several journalism classes on Monday and Tuesday.

Abramson – one of the top women in her field – also met with students and faculty informally Monday and Tuesday, events that included sharing coffee with University President Father John Jenkins and Provost Thomas Burish on Tuesday.

Her visit was scheduled to last longer, but personal matters forced Abramson to leave unexpectedly Tuesday night.

Despite the shortened visit, those involved in the Notre Dame Gallivan Program in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy – a minor for students interested in journalism – were pleased that she accepted the offer to come.

“The Keifer Endowment for Excellence in Journalism allow [the University] to bring a notable journalist to campus every year, and Jill Abramson is one of the most admired and respected journalists in America today,” said Robert Schmuhl, American Studies professor and founding member of the Gallivan Program. “I think it’s always valuable to have recognized and respected journalists talking to students who aspire to become journalists.”

Matthew Storin, professor in the Gallivan Program and former executive editor of The Boston Globe, said Abramson was interested in Notre Dame when given the opportunity to visit. He said she was very impressed by its academic reputation, and wanted to come out to a part of the country she does not usually get a chance to see.

The Gallivan Program began 10 years ago when several Notre Dame alumni, including Anne Thompson, chief financial correspondent for NBC News, Tom Bettag, former executive producer of ABC’s Nightline and Bill Dwyre, sports columnist for the Los Angeles Times, organized an advisory committee.

“Interest [in the Gallivan Program] remains high. The caliber of student remains very high,” Schmuhl said. “We are continuing to pursue many of the activities we began 10 years ago, including bringing respected journalists to campus.”

Storin said the program has several distinguishing elements.

“It is founded on the belief that undergraduates should not major in journalism, they should major in more traditional subjects,” he said. “[Journalism] should be a supplement to that learning that gives students a taste of both the craft and the issues in the craft.”

Storin said the program is valuable because it provides students with opportunities to obtain internships for future employment.

“We are starting intern programs at the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Concord, New Hampshire Monitor that are of no cost to the papers where we will subsidize the salaries of the students. … We try to provide as many intern opportunities as we can,” Storin said.

Storin also said the program ran an extra – but essential – mile by addressing journalism ethics.

“We feel that we are bringing into the media students with a highly developed sense of ethics and public service, and our program distinguishes itself with that element,” he said.

Two more prominent journalists are also planning on visiting Notre Dame in the future. Sarah Childress, a Newsweek correspondent in Baghdad and former editor of Notre Dame’s Scholastic, as well as former NBC chief White House correspondent and current PBS journalist Judy Woodruff are planning to come to campus next semester.

Storin said Abramson’s visit about because of a suggestion by a past visitor, David Shribman, executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“He suggested Jill, and I thought that was a fabulous idea, for lots of reasons,” he said. “She holds one of the most powerful and important jobs in the profession. […] She brings the additional benefit of being a great role model for our female journalists.”