Katherine Boo announced as 2015 Lovejoy recipient

On August 28, the College announced Pulitzer Prize-winning author Katherine Boo as the 2015 recipient of the Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award. The award, established in 1952, honors a member of the journalism profession who continues Elijah Parish Lovejoy’s ’26 heritage of fearlessness and courage in the media.

Katherine Boo is a staff writer for the New Yorker and author of Beyond the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity. As a reporter for The Washington Post, Boo won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, and the MacArthur award. She also won the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2012.

The award was created in memory of Lovejoy, who was born in Albion, ME and killed by a pro-slavery mob in Alton, IL for condemning slavery and for defending his right to publish. These heroic actions prompted John Quincy Adams to call Lovejoy America’s first martyr to freedom of the press. The annual recipient of the award may be an editor, reporter, or publisher who has contributed to the nation’s journalistic achievement and is chosen based on judgement from a selection committee.

The committee is comprised of journalists, publishers, and editors in the field, including Mike Pride, administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes and editor emeritus of The Concord Monitor; Stephen Engelberg, Editor-in-Chief of ProPublica; Christine S. Chinlund, Managing Editor for news at The Boston Globe; Marcela Gaviria, producer at PBS Frontline; and Martin Kaiser, retired Editor and Senior Vice President of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Also on the committee are President of the College David A. Greene and Director of the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement Daniel M. Shea.

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In the words of Greene, “Katherine Boo analyzes the complex interplay of social, political, and economic inequalities by exploring the everyday experiences of individuals—the gut-wrenching tragedies as well as the moments of personal triumph. Her writing combines elements of journalism and ethnography, and is crafted through her discerning intelligence and her unusual ability to hear universal stories in the peculiarities of daily interactions. Her work is storytelling at its very best and most illuminating.”

Past recipients of the Lovejoy award include James Risen, an investigative reporter for The New York Times who authored many articles concerning suspect government activities, A.C. Thompson, whose work led to federal charges against seven New Orleans police officers in connection with the shooting of civilians after Hurricane Katrina, and Bob Woodward, who is renowned for his role in exposing the Watergate scandal.

The award will be presented to Boo on October 5th. Also, Boo will receive an honorary doctoral degree and will deliver the Lovejoy Convocation Keynote address in Lorimer Chapel at 7:30 p.m. Also on Oct. 5, a panel discussion titled “Division and Despair: Reporting on Economic Inequality” will feature national experts and top journalists at 4 p.m. in Ostrove Auditorium, Diamond Building. Both events are open to the public.

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