Max Hall, 1910-2011; Longtime Editor at Harvard and AuthorRELATED LINK
Read his obituary in The Boston Globe.
Max Hall, NF ’50, died January 12th in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He was 100 years old.A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Hall worked part time on the sports desk of The Atlanta Constitution prior to graduating from Emory University with a bachelor’s degree in English literature. After teaching high school English for a year, he returned to the world of journalism, working at The Atlanta Georgian and the Daily Mirror in New York City before moving to The Associated Press where he stayed for nine years.

Following his Nieman year, he worked for the federal government for six years and then was named editorial director for the 10-volume New York Metropolitan Region Study, which was published by Harvard University Press (HUP). In 1960 he published his first book, “Benjamin Franklin and Polly Baker: The History of a Literary Deception,” and was hired as HUP’s first social sciences editor. In that role, he helped decide which books in history, economics and government the press should publish.

Christopher Reed, a former colleague at HUP and a contributing editor at Harvard magazine, described Hall as “a superb editor; a careful, clear, and economical writer; and a charming, kindly man, generous with his time and willingness to be helpful.”

Susan Wallace Boehmer, editor in chief of HUP, has fond memories of him. She writes: “The skills Max brought to editing—which many of his authors have written about eloquently—extended not just to manuscripts but to the people he worked with. Speaking in a soft Southern accent that he made a point not to lose, he was charming and charismatic but also self-effacing—interested in what others had to say, in drawing them out, hearing their stories, and establishing a personal bond of some kind. In my case, it was our Atlanta upbringing and education at Emory. We made this connection in 1973, when I was first walking in the door at HUP as a young editorial assistant and Max was leaving the press after serving 13 years as editor for social science. Despite the disparity in our ages and life experience, Max immediately made me feel part of a secret, special two-person club—Southerners who had migrated North into academia. I didn’t know it at the time, but there were other Southerners in Max’s club as well—people like his author Tom McCraw at the business school, where Max served as editorial adviser to the division of research after leaving HUP. With Max’s editorial help, Tom wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning history, which HUP proudly published in 1984.” Two years later, HUP published Hall’s book about the press, simply titled “Harvard University Press: A History.”

After he retired at 66 from the business school, Hall was a regular contributor to Harvard magazine, where he served on the board of directors. His book “The Charles: The People’s River,” published in 1986, grew out of an article he wrote for the magazine. He published “An Embarrassment of Misprints: Comical and Disastrous Typos of the Centuries” in 1995, 34 years after he wrote an article about printers’ errors for Nieman Reports.

Hall’s wife of 40 years, Elizabeth, died in 1974. He is survived by two daughters, one son, eight grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.


Anthony Lewis received a lifetime achievement award from the New England First Amendment Coalition this past February. The group, which includes journalists, educators, librarians, historians and First Amendment lawyers from the six New England states, was founded in 2006 to defend, promote and expand public access to government and the work it does.

In announcing Lewis’s selection as the recipient of the inaugural lifetime achievement award, coalition president Thomas Heslin, executive editor of The Providence Journal, said, “Anyone seeking evidence of the profound implications and enduring importance of the First Amendment need only look at the life work of Tony Lewis. He is the embodiment of the five freedoms, a giant upon whose shoulders we stand as we survey the new media landscape stretching out before us. Tony’s steadfast passion, intellectual rigor, and uncommon courage are simply the standard by which all others—journalists, educators and citizens—should be measured.”

Lewis won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 1955 when he was a reporter for the Washington Daily News. It was for a series of articles he wrote about Abraham Chasanow, a Navy employee who was dismissed as a security risk without being told the nature or source of the charges against him. Lewis’s reporting led to Chasanow’s reinstatement.

He won a second Pulitzer, also for national reporting, in 1963 during his 50 years at The New York Times. That one was for his coverage of the U.S. Supreme Court, especially the court’s decision on reapportionment and its consequences for many states.

Lewis is the author of five books, including “Freedom for the Thought That We Hate: A Biography of the First Amendment” and “Make No Law: The Sullivan Case and the First Amendment.”

Foundation’s Secrecy and Journalism Conference Is Global Event “I don’t regard Julian Assange as a kindred spirit. If he’s a journalist, he’s not the kind of journalist that I am.”

This comment about the founder of WikiLeaks by Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times, struck a nerve this past December during the first live-streamed and live-blogged conference in the history of the Nieman Foundation, “From Watergate to WikiLeaks: Secrecy and Journalism in the New Media Age.”

Taking a leadership role in exploring the ramifications of the topic for journalists, the Nieman Foundation invited Keller, along with other journalism leaders and veteran national security reporters, to explore how secrets are investigated, shared and filtered (or not) in the current environment. They discussed how changes in technologies are affecting journalism in the United States and abroad.

Keller’s keynote was scrutinized carefully since the Times had partnered with The Guardian and Der Spiegel to publish thousands of classified U.S. documents made available by WikiLeaks, bringing a number of uneasy questions to the profession. For example: In an era of whistleblowing websites, self-publishing and social media reporting, what is the role of the journalist? Who, in a constantly changing mix of sources, publications and publishers, is considered a journalist?

The Nieman conference brought a capacity crowd to Lippmann House and attracted more than 700 online viewers, who tuned in from India, Croatia, Ecuador and France throughout the day. The event also generated more than 1,000 tweets, with Keller’s quote being one of the most popular re-tweets.

Kathleen Carroll, executive editor at The Associated Press, opened the event with her speech, and panel members included Walter Pincus, national security reporter for The Washington Post; David Kaplan, director of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists; and Maggie Mulvihill, NF ’05, senior investigative producer at the New England Center for Investigative Reporting.

Drawing on the wealth of voices the Nieman Fellowship brings to Harvard, the conference also featured a panel of international Nieman Fellows, who brought important global perspectives to the discussions. Talking about the push for accountability in their respective countries and the role of technology were Alejandra Matus, NF ’10, a freelance journalist in Chile, along with fellows Stefan Candea, co-founder of the Romanian Center for Investigative Journalism; Kevin Doyle, editor in chief of The Cambodia Daily; and Rob Rose, an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times, based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Videos and blogs from the conference sessions are available on the Nieman Foundation’s website in the news and events section. —Stefanie Friedhoff


Read his obituary in The (Baltimore) Sun.
Arthur W. Geiselman, Jr. died on December 21st after he fell in the nursing home where he had been living in Sykesville, Maryland. He was 85 and had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 1999.

A Navy veteran of World War II, Geiselman began his career as an investigative reporter with The York (Penn.) Gazette and Daily, where his grandfather was an editor. He was a two-time winner of the Heywood Broun Award; in 1957 he won for coverage that led to community reforms, and in 1963 he was recognized for stories leading to the prosecution of housing code violations.

After his Nieman year, he worked at The Evening Sun in Baltimore for five years where he reported on prison conditions and secret intelligence files maintained by the police department. When the Sun staff went on strike in 1970, he was hired by WBAL-TV and WTOP-TV in Washington, D.C. He returned to newspapers and worked at The Philadelphia Bulletin, the Philadelphia Daily News, and The Washington Times.

He spent more than a decade at the Albuquerque Journal, where he ended his half-century career in journalism in 1998.

He is survived by his wife, Helen, four daughters, seven grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.


Jack Schwartz is a mentor in the nonfiction program of the Writers’ Institute at the City University of New York Graduate Center for the spring semester. He also is an adjunct professor at the Columbia Journalism School, where he supervises master’s students during a yearlong project reporting and writing a 5,000-word magazine piece.

Schwartz, who spent nearly 50 years in the newspaper business, retired in 2005 from The New York Times where he was an assistant culture editor.


Paul Bichara contributed to a new edition of “Chaban-Delmas,” a biography of the former French prime minister by Jacques Mousseau. Like the first edition, the new one is written in French. It was published by Perrin this past year to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the death of Jacques Chaban-Delmas. Bichara explained that he was asked to contribute to the new edition because he was an unofficial foreign policy adviser to the prime minister as well as a friend. He called Chaban-Delmas, who was mayor of Bordeaux for nearly half a century, “a unique case of longevity in politics.”


Rosental Alves will be honored in July for his career achievements. The Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (ABRAJI) will recognize Alves’s contributions at its sixth annual International Investigative Journalism Congress.

Alves got his start in journalism in 1968 when, at the age of 16, he wrote for his school newspaper in Rio de Janeiro. He has been fighting for journalists’ rights for nearly as long, having been arrested and briefly detained as a high school student for trying to form a media association.

He worked at Jornal do Brasil (“Journal of Brazil”) for 23 years, serving as a reporter, foreign correspondent, and editor. In 1994, he helped make it the first newspaper based in Brazil available online. Since 1996 he has held the Knight Chair in International Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin, where in 2002 he founded and continues to direct the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas.

“The tribute to Rosental is a most just recognition of a journalist who has contributed so much to raise the standards of the profession in Brazil and other countries,” said Fernando Rodrigues, NF ’08, ABRAJI president, in a statement.

Alves helped establish ABRAJI and other Latin American journalism organizations and serves on the boards of the Ibero-American New Journalism Foundation and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, among others. The first Brazilian selected for a Nieman fellowship, he is a member of the Nieman Foundation’s advisory board.


Bobby Hitt became South Carolina’s secretary of commerce in January.

He was appointed by Governor Nikki Haley in December—her first appointment after taking office—and was confirmed by the state Senate the next month with the unanimous approval of the Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee. Prior to his appointment, he had been the manager of corporate affairs for BMW Manufacturing Company since it opened in Spartanburg, South Carolina in 1993.

Previously, he worked for South Carolina’s largest newspaper, The State, and its sister paper, The Columbia Record. He left the company after 17 years in 1991, having spent the past four years as the managing editor of The State.

One of his former newspaper colleagues, Brad Warthen, wrote of Hitt’s nomination: “Bobby is a unique individual, from his thick Charleston accent to that slightly mad, conspiratorial, insinuating grin that explodes out of his scruffy red beard at the least provocation. He’s certainly not the standard-issue CEO type that one expects in the commerce job. No man in the gray flannel suit is he. I feel confident he’ll grab hold of commerce with both hands, and make something happen or bust a gut in the attempt.”


Eugene Robinson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, has been elected to the Pulitzer Prize Board, which is in charge of judging the awards. He joins Ann Marie Lipinski, NF ’90, on the board. The rules for this year’s Pulitzer contest have been modified to allow entries to include videos and databases as well as multimedia and interactive presentations. A 30-year veteran of The Washington Post, Robinson became an associate editor and began writing a twice-weekly column for the paper’s op-ed page in 2005. In 2009, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for his columns about the presidential campaign and election of Barack Obama.


Peter Richmond‘s book “Badasses: The Legend of Snake, Foo, Dr. Death, and John Madden’s Oakland Raiders” was released this past September by Harper. It chronicles the Oakland Raiders of the 1970’s, one of the last teams to exhibit the character of the “mud-and-lunchpail era” of the sport, before it became the entertainment behemoth that it is today.

During the six seasons from 1972 to 1977, the Raiders won more games than any other team in the NFL, made five consecutive appearances in the AFC championship game, and won Super Bowl XI to cap off the 1976 season. But in the greater history of the NFL, Richmond writes, the team’s accomplishments during the decade are overshadowed by the Miami Dolphins, Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Dallas Cowboys, which each won more championships and “represented excellence of a very specific kind: simple football excellence.”

Meanwhile, the Raiders became notorious for their off-the-field antics—tailgating with fans, befriending the Hells Angels and Black Panthers, and dancing on bars, to name a few—but played the game with a youthful exuberance missing in the modern NFL. The players Richmond interviewed spoke of the team as a family and credited its success to that attitude. Richmond, a child of the East Coast waging his own private rebellion at Yale University when he became a fan of the Raiders, writes that he was “magnetically drawn to the guys whose hair flapped out of their helmets, whose mustaches and beards and eyeblack loomed like warrior makeup behind the face guards …”

“Badasses” is Richmond’s fifth book, and, as he told The New Yorker, it is something of a follow-up to 2008’s “The Glory Game: How the 1958 NFL Championship Changed Football Forever,” which he wrote with New York Giants Hall of Famer Frank Gifford. That book prompted the question—”What was the last great football team that played the sport for love and camaraderie, not money or fame?”—that set the new book in motion. A former newspaper writer, Richmond spent 13 years on staff at GQ magazine.


Rick Tulsky joined Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism as director of its new watchdog initiative. He writes: “My first day of work was February 1, arriving just in time for the historic snowstorm followed by subzero weather. But that didn’t dissuade me from feeling tremendous excitement about this endeavor. Medill envisions the center producing journalism that will make a difference, and the details have been deliberately left vague to give us the chance to shape it in whatever way makes the most sense. It’s exciting that as more and more places are trying to develop a model to do reporting to hold officials—public and private—accountable, that Medill recognized the need and has thrown its support behind it. I feel as if I died and went to heaven. Well, if there were snow in heaven.”

Tulsky, a veteran investigative reporter, most recently was investigations editor at the San Jose Mercury News. In 1987, he and two colleagues at the Philadelphia Inquirer won a Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting for their exposé on city trial courts.

At Medill he will lead the development of a center for watchdog and accountability journalism that will involve students, faculty and local organizations in identifying systemic problems in government and public institutions and providing citizens with information that will lead to making improvements.

Saul Friedman, 1929-2010; Covered Top Political Stories and Wrote ‘Gray Matters,’ a Column About AgingRELATED LINK
Read his obituary in The Washington Post.
Saul Friedman, NF ’63, a longtime reporter and columnist, died on December 24th at his home in Edgewater, Maryland from stomach cancer. He was 81 years old.Friedman, who spent more than 50 years in journalism, covered many major political stories, including the civil rights movement, the protests against the Vietnam War, and the resignation of President Richard Nixon. In addition, Friedman had the distinction of being named to Nixon’s White House enemies list.

He wrote a series of articles for the Houston Chronicle that, according to his wife Evelyn, helped improve conditions at a public hospital that mainly served black patients. He also was part of the team at the Detroit Free Press that won the 1968 Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting for coverage of race riots in the city.

In 1985, he joined Newsday’s Washington bureau, where he spent 10 years covering the State Department and Congress.

After retiring as a reporter in 1995, he spent time in South Africa teaching journalism with Nieman classmate Allister Sparks.

Speaking at the funeral service, Friedman’s wife recalled that, during his Nieman year, he was in New York visiting family when a major snowstorm swept through the area on New Year’s Eve, stranding him there while she was in Cambridge with their sick child.

“So I called all the other Niemans,” she said, “and told them what was happening and would they bring some food and come to help me celebrate since I couldn’t leave the child. They did. They brought much food and wine and whiskey and we were having a good party when a loud knocking came at the back door.

“It was Saul, covered in snow, having driven back from New York to be with me for the occasion. I was overwhelmed. No matter what crazy things he did, he always made sure I was all right.”

For the past 14 years, Friedman wrote “Gray Matters,” a column about aging and senior issues that first appeared in Newsday. After the paper instituted a paywall online, Friedman took his column to and The Huffington Post. His last column was published a week before he died.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two daughters, five grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

Fondly Remembering a ’63 Nieman Classmate

By Allister Sparks

This remembrance was read at Friedman’s memorial service.

A mighty tree has fallen in the redwood forest of those who tower above the crowd in their caring about the state of the world and of humanity. Saul was my oldest and dearest friend, a friendship that we sustained across half the world for more than half a century from our first meeting as Nieman Fellows at Harvard in the class of 1963, a friendship grounded in shared values and shared passions about our respective countries which shared so many historical issues to stir those passions.

Saul was a larger-than-life figure in every respect—a big man with a big voice and big ideas and a big heart. A courageous man both morally and physically, whose voice would boom out against injustice and inequality, prejudice and pretension, greed and the abuse of political power, and who fought every physical disability that came his way with the courage of the lion-hearted. He suffered a stroke that affected his speech and partially paralyzed his right side, then stomach cancer, which eventually proved fatal. He kept on writing and he kept on fighting—fighting his ailments and fighting injustice. He was the truest adherent I have ever known to the old adage that the journalist’s job is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. His own afflictions he fought mightily. He spent his 80th birthday walking through the African bushveld, with his gammy leg and his cane, stepping over the droppings of wild elephants. Then in a final magnificent gesture of defiance he bought himself a powerful, bright orange sports car.

He was a man who loved as strongly as he loathed: He loved the sea, he loved boats, he loved traveling, he loved the wild, he loved journalism, he loved politics, he loved good food, he loved good music, he loved to talk, he loved his country, he loved his friends, and above all he loved his family.

And I loved him. Especially the sheer size of him. We shall not see the likes of him again. To Evelyn, Lesley, Lisa and their families, know that I grieve with you.


Mark Seibel is now chief of correspondents in McClatchy Newspapers’ Washington, D.C. bureau. A veteran of foreign news, he most recently had been managing editor of In announcing Seibel’s new position and other changes in the bureau, Anders Gyllenhaal, vice president for news and Washington editor, wrote “Mark’s years of experience in world news, and deep knowledge of our business, make him well suited for the double duties of running our foreign bureaus and devising ways of expanding and rethinking approaches to providing global news. At a time with so many important stories developing around the world, we will look for ways of augmenting our foreign bureaus with partnerships, foundation funding, and other innovations.”


Michael Riley has been named to the Poynter Institute’s National Advisory Board. The board provides feedback to the institute’s president and meets each January to consult with trustees and staff. Board members also teach Poynter courses. He joins Melanie Sill, NF ’94, who was named to the board in 2010. Riley is the managing editor of the newly launched Bloomberg Government, which he wrote about in the Winter 2010 issue of Nieman Reports.


Mary Schmich, who for 25 years wrote “Brenda Starr,” has retired from the funny pages. The last comic strip featuring the red-headed reporter was published January 2nd. Tribune Media Services, the syndicate that owned the strip, decided to end it rather than replace Schmich and artist June Brigman, who also decided to retire.

Schmich was a young reporter at the Orlando Sentinel when her editor recommended her for the writing job. At its peak in the 1950’s, the seven-day-a-week strip about a “girl reporter” appeared in 250 newspapers around the world; toward the end, it ran in about three dozen papers.

Writing late last year in one of her three-times-a-week columns in the Chicago Tribune
, Schmich told how she put her mark on the strip by addressing substantive issues in the media, moving beyond Starr’s love interests, but still having fun with characters like sexist journalism professor Harry Groper, celebrity commentator Vanity Puffington, and Rat Sludge, a thinly veiled caricature of Matt Drudge. Schmich wrote, “I was especially fond of publisher B. Babbitt Bottomline, who once cut costs by staging an ‘American Idol’-style contest in which readers got to vote reporters out of The Flash newsroom.”

In an e-mail, Schmich wrote, “When I was a Nieman Fellow, Bill Kovach [NF ’89], then the Nieman curator, did a cool painting of the Brenda Starr postage stamp for me and had all my fellow fellows sign it. I still have Bill’s painting of Brenda—and now that she’s officially retired, I cherish it all the more.” She added, “And I’m taking mandolin lessons with my Brenda time!”

Dexter Filkins, Veteran War Correspondent, Delivers Morris LectureDexter Filkins, NF ’07, who has covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan during the past decade, offered his perspective on the region’s past and future during the 30th annual Joe Alex Morris, Jr. Memorial Lecture at the Nieman Foundation on February 3rd.

“If I’ve learned anything over the past—I can’t believe it’s 10 years—covering these two American wars … [it’s that] the truth is there and it’s to be found, and you can find it,” he said. Yet the challenge of reporting in such chaotic and deadly places is huge.

Filkins said metaphors can help convey what it’s like. One war correspondent he knows compares the job to putting together a puzzle when a lot of the pieces are missing; another said it is like trying to identify shapes looming in the distance during a blizzard. Filkins said the metaphor he prefers is that of a kaleidoscope. “It was all these pieces of colored glass swirling around and just when you thought ‘I think I know something,’ all the glass would rearrange itself again. There was never any moment when you could sit back and say ‘I finally understand this place,'” he said.

Filkins, who joined The New York Times in 2000, left the paper this past December to become a staff writer for The New Yorker. In his 2008 book, “The Forever War,” he told the stories that he most vividly remembered, the ones he would share with friends when they asked what it was like over there.

He barely recognized Iraq when he returned in 2008, two years after he left. “The scars were still there,” he said, and there were 2 million refugees in Jordan and Syria, but the quality of life was vastly improved. In 2006 the park in front of the heavily barricaded house where he had lived as a reporter for the Times was a place no one—except someone with a death wish, he said—would visit. Two years later, people were out in the streets. “It’s a lot better than it was,” he said. “It’s extremely fragile and it could all collapse tomorrow. But it hasn’t.”

As far as Afghanistan’s future, Filkins said, the challenges remain tremendous even though the United States has now had a military presence in the country for almost 10 years. It’s difficult to make clear distinctions between the government, the drug traffickers, and the Taliban, he said. The Afghan government is, as one American official told Filkins, a “vertically integrated criminal enterprise.”

Filkins and a colleague at the Times shared the 2010 George Polk Award for Military Reporting for their behind-the-scenes look at the war in Afghanistan. The announcement said their disclosures “subsequently altered public perception of the conflict.”

The Joe Alex Morris, Jr. Memorial Lecture honors the Los Angeles Times foreign correspondent who had reported from the Middle East for 25 years before he was killed while covering the Iranian Revolution in Tehran in February 1979. Each year, the Morris Lecture is given by an American foreign correspondent or commentator. —Jan Gardner

Dexter Filkins, NF ’07, said Iraq was a changed place when he returned in 2008. Photo by Lisa Abitbol.


Jingcao Hu directed “Liang Sicheng Lin Huiyin,” an eight-part documentary broadcast in China about the lives of Liang Sicheng, a pioneering architectural historian, and his wife Lin Huiyin, a writer and architect. The couple’s friendship with John King Fairbank, the American scholar and historian of China, and his wife, Wilma Fairbank, lies at the heart of the documentary for which Hu drew heavily on the foursome’s voluminous correspondence from the 1930’s and 1940’s. In an interview published on The China Beat blog, Hu said she hopes that viewers “will see, looking in full at the lives of these two intellectuals, the steep price that husband and wife both paid for the art to which they were so devoted.”


Bryan Monroe is editor of, a newly created position. Based in CNN’s Washington, D.C. bureau, Monroe is leading the editorial planning and content strategy for CNN’s political coverage online.

In an interview with this past January on the day he started his job, he said, “I’m really fortunate and happy to be in this position, a chance to work with some of the best political brains in the business.” Monroe added that his new role will allow him to marry the network’s “broadcast legacy with the digital currency of today.”

A frequent contributor to CNN, Monroe most recently was a visiting professor at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. He has held executive positions at Ebony and Jet magazines and at the San Jose Mercury News and other Knight Ridder newspapers and has helped a number of media companies develop their presence online.

Somali Journalist Mohamed Olad Hassan Receives Lyons Award Somali reporter Mohamed Olad Hassan, who has endured repeated death threats and a shrapnel wound, was awarded the Louis M. Lyons Award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism in November.

Nieman Fellows in the Class of 2011 selected Hassan, a senior correspondent and writer for the BBC World Service and The Associated Press, in recognition of his courageous reporting from a perilous region and for his enduring commitment to the people of Somalia.

In announcing their selection, the Nieman Fellows said, “Journalists face increasing pressures in many parts of the world, but Mohamed Olad Hassan stands out in a crowd of worthy candidates. We admire his intrepid reporting in the face of mortal danger. We appreciate his determination to carry on in an environment so hostile that almost no one else will. He has become the world’s eyes and ears in Somalia and in a real sense the voice of the country. For that we honor him.”

While a number of journalists and media professionals have been killed on the job in Somalia and others have been forced to flee the country, Hassan has persevered. Despite efforts by the government and radical insurgent groups like al-Shabob to silence the media, he has chosen to stay, citing his “desire to inform the world, to tell the truth and help bring peace and democracy to my own country.” Hassan’s peers recognize him as the voice of the voiceless in Somalia.

Hassan started his career writing for the Xog-Ogaal newspaper in Mogadishu in 2001. The following year he became the Somali Television Network’s chief Mogadishu correspondent and in 2003, he began reporting for the BBC World Service and The Associated Press.

In 2007, he was wounded by a mortar explosion near his home. Two years later, Hassan narrowly escaped with his life when a bomb exploded at a graduation ceremony he was covering, killing two dozen people, including a colleague who had just taken Hassan’s own seat.

The Nieman Class of 1964 established the Louis M. Lyons Award in honor of the Nieman Foundation curator who retired that year after leading the institution for 25 years. The award honors displays of conscience and integrity by individuals or groups. —Jan Gardner

Lyons award recipient Mohamed Olad Hassan of Somalia was nominated by Gwen Thompkins, NF ’11, East Africa correspondent for NPR. Photo by Lisa Abitbol.


Dexter Filkins, a reporter at The New York Times for a decade, has joined the staff of The New Yorker. In an e-mail to The New York Observer, Bill Keller, executive editor of the Times, called Filkins “a huge talent,” adding, “We’ll miss him a lot, but I totally understand that after 10 years of high-adrenaline, high-risk war reporting, he wants something completely different.” David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, said, “I’m over the moon.”


James Baxter is founding editor and publisher of the Canadian political news site, which launched this past November. In an interview with Digital Journal, Baxter said iPolitics is for “people who live, drink and breathe politics.” The site promises daily coverage of the “legislative, regulatory, political and policy developments that matter most to businesspeople, professionals, politicians, public servants, political activists and the more politically aware.”

In addition to covering the federal and provincial governments, the site will provide a venue “where this country’s unique political personalities and policy issues are reported on fairly, discussed by experts, and debated in an open arena, all in a timely and efficient manner,” Baxter wrote in an online message.

Access to content from outside news providers is free but a subscription to stories and content developed by iPolitics staff is $15 a month.


Maria Balinska has received a $20,000 grant from the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) to launch a new media enterprise. Latitude, the international news service she conceived, is one of three projects the IWMF selected for funding from more than 100 proposals. Key criteria for selection included innovation in delivering the news and a plan for achieving sustainability beyond the year-long grant program.

Balinska, a veteran foreign journalist, served as editor of the BBC’s World Current Affairs Radio from 1998 to 2009. In an article in the Fall 2010 issue of Nieman Reports, she wrote about her plan to leave the BBC and launch a startup. With Latitude, Balinska will approach international journalism by exploring connections between Americans and the rest of the world and promoting a deeper understanding of how the U.S. fits into the global news narrative.

As a recipient of one of the inaugural Women Entrepreneurs in the Global Digital News Frontier grants, Balinska will be coached by new media leaders on the IWMF’s Advisory Committee.


J.S. Tissainayagam accepted a 2009 International Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists this past November. He was in prison at the time of the awards dinner in 2009. An ethnic Tamil journalist in Sri Lanka, Tissainayagam was taken into custody when he visited the police station in March 2008 to inquire about a colleague who had been arrested the day before. He was held without being charged for six months. In August of that year he was charged with inciting “communal disharmony” for articles he had written nearly three years earlier. In August 2009 he was sentenced to 20 years in prison; he was released on bail the following January and landed in the United States this past June. The Sri Lankan government has granted him a presidential pardon.

In his acceptance speech, Tissainayagam said, “Governments which systematically suppress freedom of expression understand that while journalists can be silenced by inflicting physical violence on them, there are far more powerful and subtler deterrents to achieve the same end. I am referring here to labeling. I remember only too well how the Sri Lanka government-controlled newspapers, television and most of all the government websites, mounted a campaign vilifying me. … They did not bother to meet the legal arguments put forward by my lawyers—they only publicly denounced me as a terrorist.”

Nieman Fellows Find a Home in ‘The Princeton Reader’ From Gaza to South Africa and Paris to Washington, D.C., essays by Nieman Fellows in “The Princeton Reader” hopscotch across the world. The “Reader,” published this past December by Princeton University Press, is an anthology of nonfiction pieces by 75 journalists who have held a Ferris, McGraw or Robbins professorship at Princeton University between 2000 and 2010. John McPhee and Carol Rigolot are co-editors. In his introduction, McPhee, who has been a Ferris professor since 1975, notes that most visiting journalists who teach at Princeton stay only one semester.

The Nieman contributors are Mitchel Levitas, NF ’59, (“The Renaissance of the Marais”); Gilbert Gaul, NF ’83, (“Internet Gambling”); Athelia Knight, NF ’86, (“McKinley High School”); Julia Keller, NF ’98, (“The Lure of the Frozen Lake”); Chris Hedges, NF ’99, (“A Gaza Diary”); Pippa Green, NF ’99, (“Trevor Manuel and the Liberation of Nelson Mandela”); and Ken Armstrong, NF ’01, (“Curtis Williams—Victory and Ruins”).

In addition, a number of contributors to Nieman Reports appear in the anthology, including Charles Lewis, founder of the Center for Public Integrity. His essay was first published in the magazine’s Spring 2008 issue.

Other recent Nieman Reports contributors in the anthology are Barbara Demick, Barton Gellman, Roy Gutman, Kay Mills, and Evan Thomas.

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