Read his obituary in the Los Angeles Times.
Murray Seeger, a labor and economics reporter as well as a foreign correspondent, died at a hospital in Olney, Maryland on August 29th. He had pneumonia. He was 82.

Seeger grew up outside Buffalo, New York and worked in a steel mill for three summers before starting his journalism career at The Buffalo Evening News. He worked for The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, The New York Times, Newsweek and the Los Angeles Times.

He noted in the introduction to his 2005 book "Discovering Russia: 200 Years of American Journalism" that his fascination with the Soviet Union began with his studies at Harvard during his Nieman year. From 1972 to 1974, as Moscow bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times, he reported on the economy and Soviet dissidents, including Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who was expelled by the government hours after being interviewed by him in 1974. While based in Brussels, he won a Gerald Loeb Award for financial reporting. He was expelled from Poland in 1981 after reporting on the Solidarity strikes.

That year he moved back to Washington, D.C. and became the communications director for the AFL-CIO. He was an editorial consultant for the Straits Times of Singapore in the late 1980’s before working in external relations for the International Monetary Fund.

Seeger was a frequent contributor to Nieman Reports, and from 1994 to 1996 he was associate editor. Two years ago in submitting his review of a book about Cold War spies, he wrote in his typical pithy fashion to the editor: "Hope it is not too long, but it taps into my deepest well." Syracuse University Press will publish his memoir, which it acquired earlier this year.

Seeger also taught courses on media, politics and public affairs at a number of universities, most recently at Johns Hopkins University.

He is survived by his wife, Palma, one son, and two grandsons.


Read his obituary from The Associated Press.
Joseph Mohbat, an Associated Press reporter turned lawyer and activist, died in a Brooklyn, New York hospital on August 10th of cancer. He was 73.

Mohbat covered national politics for the AP during the 1960’s, including Robert F. Kennedy’s bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. Mohbat was protective of Kennedy, according to "The Last Campaign," Thurston Clarke’s 2008 book chronicling Kennedy’s run. "Joe Mohbat sometimes found himself gripping Kennedy around the waist to prevent him from being yanked from the convertible" by passionate supporters, Clarke wrote.

He was a member of the AP special assignment team that won the 1968 Worth Bingham Prize for Investigative Journalism for a series of reports on ways the federal government wasted taxpayers’ money.

According to the AP, Mohbat wrote one of the shortest ledes in its history—"Ike is dead"—following the death of President Eisenhower on March 28, 1969.

In the 1970’s, Mohbat served as press secretary for the Democratic National Committee. He studied constitutional law during his Nieman year and graduated from Georgetown University law school in 1978.

He was a longtime community activist in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Boerum Hill.

He is survived by his wife, Nancy, and one son.


John Carroll has been named to the board of directors of the Committee to Protect Journalists, a 30-year-old New York-based organization devoted to defending press freedom around the world. He is one of five new board members. Carroll, the former editor of the Los Angeles Times and The (Baltimore) Sun, is chairman of the News Literacy Project and is working on a narrative nonfiction book.


Karl Idsvoog is coauthor of "Access With Attitude: An Advocate’s Guide to Freedom of Information in Ohio," published in May by Ohio University Press.

Idsvoog, an associate professor of journalism at Kent State University, partnered with David Marburger, an attorney who specializes in First Amendment law, to produce a practical guide to the Ohio Public Records Act. The book addresses the restrictions that government can and can’t impose on people seeking public information, how to get past those restrictions without resorting to legal action, and, when all else fails, what you need to know to take your case to court.

The authors, who have worked together on public records cases since the late 1980’s, wrote that they "became dismayed by the failure of some advocates to recognize legal arguments more potent than the ones they were using—or arguments that might win the pending case but would send the law ultimately in the wrong direction. … We decided to team up to write a book to share our combined 50-plus years of experience, ideas, and analyses with journalists, ordinary citizens, lawyers representing them, and even judges."

The two will donate royalties from book sales to nonprofit organizations that support investigative reporting.

William Marimow, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist and former editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer, has joined Arizona State University to lead the Carnegie-Knight News21 investigative journalism program. Marimow is a professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and executive editor of News21. "Bill Marimow is one of the great investigative journalists of our time, one of the best investigative team leaders, and a wonderful mentor to smart young journalists," said the school’s dean, Christopher Callahan.

Eli Reed will receive the Lucie Foundation’s 2011 award for Outstanding Achievement in Documentary Photography at a ceremony to be held in New York on October 24. Previous recipients include Eugene Richards and Mary Ellen Mark. A video tribute highlighting Reed’s work will be shown at the black-tie gala. Reed described the award as the photography world’s equivalent of an Oscar.

The mission of the Lucie Foundation is to honor master photographers, discover and cultivate emerging talent, and promote the appreciation of photography. The Lucie Awards are the foundation’s signature event that launches New York’s Fall Photo Week.


Joel Kaplan became ombudsman for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) in June. He will serve a three-year term subject to renewal by the CPB board.

Kaplan started in the position as the CPB faced threats of federal funding cuts and accusations of bias in the coverage it supports through NPR and PBS.

In the announcement of his appointment, Kaplan said, "Public media has consistently demonstrated its commitment to strive for editorial independence. I look forward to working with CPB to improve transparency throughout the public media system, encourage greater objectivity and balance in public media programming, and ensure the organization is responsive to audience comments and questions."

He will remain associate dean of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, where he has worked since 1991.


William Dietrich‘s latest novel is "Blood of the Reich," released in June by HarperCollins. The book is a historical thriller based on a 1938 expedition to Tibet by the Nazis and their actual search for a mythical power source during World War II. It also weaves in a contemporary story line involving a reporter from The Seattle Times, where Dietrich worked until 2008. While there, he shared the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for coverage of the Exxon-Valdez oil spill. This is his 10th novel. He has also written three nonfiction books.


Cynthia Tucker, a columnist for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for more than 20 years, has joined the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication as a visiting professor.

In an e-mail, Tucker wrote: "I’m eager for the chance to impress upon young, would-be journalists my firm belief that the basics still matter, regardless of medium or platform. Those include good writing, good reporting and high ethical standards.

"I’m also happy for the chance to pursue longer-form writing—magazine pieces and possibly a book. I’ve been hoping to do that since I won the Pulitzer for commentary in 2007, and leaving daily journalism for the academy will give me the time and resources to take a deeper dive into the social and public policy issues that I care about."

A native of Alabama, Tucker began her career as a reporter at The Atlanta Journal. After a stint at The Philadelphia Inquirer and freelancing in Africa, she returned to the Journal as a columnist and editorial writer. In 1992, she became the editorial page editor of The Atlanta Constitution. From 2001 when a merger produced The Atlanta Journal-Constitution until 2009, she was editorial page editor of the joint operation. Since 2009 she has been a political columnist based in Washington, D.C. and focused on the intersection of national policy and the interests of Georgia.

Dorothy Wickenden a few years back found a batch of letters her grandmother, Dorothy Woodruff, had written when she taught school in the Colorado Rockies. Woodruff and her best friend traveled from New York by train and wagon in 1916. They had graduated from Smith College, toured Europe, and weren’t ready to settle down so they jumped at the opportunity to live out West for a year. Wickenden drew on the letters as well as oral histories and old documents to tell a personal story about the settling of the West in "Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West," published in June by Scribner. Wickenden, executive editor of The New Yorker, was quoted on the magazine’s Book Bench blog: "My favorite discovery was a rare fib she [my grandmother] told me in the 1970’s. She hated my tight bellbottom jeans, and huffily said, ‘I never wore a pair of trousers in my life!’ She wouldn’t even utter the word ‘pants.’ When I saw her photo album from Elkhead [Colorado], there she was, on skis, in a pair of wool ‘trousers.’ "


Tim Giago, who retired earlier this year as editor and publisher of Native Sun News, has been honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from a professional association he helped start.

Giago was a cofounder in 1983 of the Native American Press Association, later renamed the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA). He was the organization’s first president.

The NAJA gave the award to Giago, who since 1981 has founded three Indian newspapers, including The Lakota Times, the first successful Indian-owned weekly newspaper in the United States.

"I think the thing I will remember the most is the number of Native American journalists I trained at my newspapers, who eventually went on to radio, magazines and to other newspapers," he said.


Susan E. Reed wasn’t happy with the dearth of statistics about diversity in leadership at the top companies in the United States. None of the published studies included progress made across all races and ethnicities of both genders, and given the decades of efforts made to improve diversity in the workplace, the lack of detailed information was puzzling. So Reed launched her own study on the presence of women and minorities in executive positions in the Fortune 100.

The results of her work form the backbone of "The Diversity Index: The Alarming Truth About Diversity in Corporate America … and What Can Be Done About It," published in August by Amacom Books. She found that 40 of the top 100 companies had no minority executive officers in 2009, and while women were present at the executive level in 90 percent of the companies, minority women were present in only 21 percent.

Not only does her book identify the problems but it highlights companies such as Merck and PepsiCo that have strong histories of promoting minorities to executive positions. She also digs into the history of affirmative action, beginning with a Kennedy-era program called Plans for Progress, and looks at the relatively new trend of considering foreign-born executives when measuring diversity.

Reed, who has covered workplace issues for CBS News and The New York Times, writes in the acknowledgements that the book "found direction after Bill Kovach [NF ’89 and former curator of the Nieman Foundation] offered me a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard. The courses I took became the pathways to my destination." She also expresses gratitude for t
he assistance and patience of Margaret Engel, NF ’79, director of the Alicia Patterson Foundation, which gave her a grant to support the writing.

Mary Williams Walsh a business reporter for The New York Times, has been digging into the issues surrounding pension shortfalls in places like Detroit and Wisconsin. She also has covered the government’s bailout of American International Group, especially as it sought to unload its shares of the insurance company.

As testimony to the consistent high quality of the reporting on this beat, Walsh received the Nathaniel Nash Award, an annual internal Times honor for business and economic reporting. In his staff memo announcing the award, Bill Keller, then executive editor, wrote: "Today she is recognized as perhaps the foremost journalist on pension issues in the country."


Andreas Harsono has written a book in Malay called "’Agama’ Saya Adalah Jurnalisme," which he translates as "My Religion Is Journalism."
Indonesia’s Religious Violence: The Reluctance of Reporters to Tell the Story
– Andreas Harsono

"The title is quite controversial," he wrote in an e-mail, "in a place like Indonesia which has witnessed the rise of violent Islamism since the fall of dictator Suharto in May 1998. In Indonesia, more than 430 churches and more than 180 Ahmadiyah mosques were attacked since President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono came to power in 2004."

The anthology of 34 essays that Harsono wrote after his Nieman year is divided into four sections: elements of journalism, writing, newsroom dynamics, and reporting. Two books Bill Kovach, NF ’89, coauthored with Tom Rosenstiel have an important presence in it. Harsono devotes a 10,000-word essay to "The Elements of Journalism," and in writing about the use of anonymous sources he recommends adhering to the seven criteria Kovach and Rosenstiel set forth in "Warp Speed: America in the Age of Mixed Media Culture."

Another essay—one of the most popular on his website—focuses on how to write in English. Few of Indonesia’s 230 million residents can speak and write well in English, skills that many young Indonesians want to develop.

Harsono is pleased that his book has won praise from a diverse group of respected writers, including Otto Syamsuddin Ishak, an Achenese columnist; and Benny Giay, a West Papuan writer. "It is unusual for a Jakarta writer to be endorsed by Achenese and Papuan who have for decades wanted secede from Indonesia," he wrote.


Frank Langfitt sends in this update about a change of assignment for NPR:

"And now for something completely different: After a year knocking about Somalia and Sudan, I’m shifting from NPR’s East Africa correspondent to its Shanghai correspondent.

"I will miss the adventure of East Africa, but China is something of a homecoming. Julie and I lived in Beijing in the 1990’s and have kept in touch with many friends there. We’ll be trading the leafy suburbs of Nairobi for a high-rise in Shanghai’s financial district, but Katie and Christopher enjoy big-city life, including scootering on Nanjing Road. Julie hopes to return to practicing veterinary medicine as she did in Beijing."

Susan Smith Richardson is now managing editor of The Texas Observer, where she is responsible for production of the monthly magazine, assigning and editing stories for the culture section for online and print, and some news writing and editing.

The Observer is a nonprofit news organization that specializes in investigative, political and social justice reporting. It is also the home of the annual Molly Awards, given in honor of longtime patron and columnist Molly Ivins, who died in 2007.

The move allowed Richardson to return to Texas to be with her family after almost a decade away, including six years in Chicago, where she was senior writer at the MacArthur Foundation and assistant metro editor at the Chicago Tribune. She says that she is "looking forward to combining my experience in philanthropy, a driving force in shaping the nonprofit media landscape, with my love for investigative and narrative journalism."


Susan Orlean‘s eighth book, "Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend," was published in September by Simon & Schuster. In Booklist, reviewer Donna Seaman wrote, "In her first from-scratch investigative book since ‘The Orchid Thief‘ (1999), New Yorker staff writer Orlean incisively chronicles every facet of the never-before-told, surprisingly consequential, and roller coaster–like Rin Tin Tin saga, including the rapid evolution of the film and television industries, the rise of American pet culture, how Americans heeded the military’s call and sent their dogs into combat during World War II, and even what the courageous canine meant to her own family."


Richard Chacón, now the senior associate director for campaign planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), will lead the school’s next major fundraising campaign.

Prior to joining MIT, Chacón worked for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as the director of the Office for Refugees and Immigrants, where he helped put together the New Americans Agenda to improve the integration of immigrants into the state’s economic and civic life. Previously he spent more than a decade at The Boston Globe.

"I’m very hopeful that the new work at MIT will help advance its mission to educate and solve some of the world’s most challenging problems and to advance its entrepreneurial spirit, including supporting the Media Lab and other journalistic innovations," Chacón told Nieman Reports.


Rose Luqiu Luwei wrote a book about media bias in the East and West with a title that translates as "Prejudice Without Borders." Published in Chinese and Korean, it discusses coverage of a number of news events including the Beijing Olympics, a demonstration marking the 51st anniversary of the uprising in Tibet, and the Chinese premier’s trip to Copenhagen for climate change talks.

In addition to her full-time job as executive news editor for Hong Kong’s Phoenix Satellite Television, she promotes citiz
en journalism via a blog, teaches international news at Hong Kong Baptist University, and last year established a foundation, "my1510 foundation" which produces a website, weekly e-magazine, and a monthly seminar "Co-China," broadcast online to mainland China, on topics ranging from Libya and Egypt to social media in China and migrants in Hong Kong.

Craig Welch will receive the Society of Environmental Journalists’ Rachel Carson Environment Book Award for "Shell Games: Rogues, Smugglers and the Hunt for Nature’s Bounty," published by William Morrow, at the association’s annual conference in October.

Welch, environment beat reporter for The Seattle Times, uses the book to expand the local story of geoduck clam poaching into an international tale of smuggling and black market intrigue. In making their announcement, the judges praised "Shell Games" as "a wonderful combination of solid reporting, good historical research, and fine writing."


Jenifer McKim, a reporter at The Boston Globe, and her editor, Mark Pothier, NF ’01, are recipients of a 2011 Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism from the Journalism Center on Children & Families. Her story, "People Need to Know What These Guys Have Done," was hailed by the judges as a tale of "realistic triumph and taking back control." They commented: "Child prostitution is a very real, urban issue that most overlook because they can, but McKim takes the time to see it, understand it and reveal its underbelly. She studied court records, talked with federal and local law enforcement and gained the trust of ‘Jessica,’ a young woman who took on her seeming protectors-turned-tormentors in court. … McKim’s eye-opening story is an unsentimental cautionary tale for would-be runaways and, at the same time, a hopeful story for those already on the streets."

Mary Newsom is now the associate director of urban and regional affairs at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Urban Institute. She is responsible for creating and managing a nonprofit venture to report on urban issues, including growth, design and environmental protection. She is also maintaining a blog about these topics called The Naked City.

Newsom spent nearly two decades at The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer. When she left in June, she was associate editor and covered urban issues as a columnist. In a farewell message to her readers, she remarked that "producing a newspaper is, at heart, an addiction," and that while she was leaving daily journalism behind, she was "glad to find a new role where I can still focus on, and write about, much of what I have been but can be energized by using different mental muscles."


Martha Bebinger, a health care reporter for WBUR in Boston, is focusing on "building models for journalists to tap into the online patient community." In an e-mail, she also wrote that the main element of a recent fellowship was Healthcare Savvy, a social network for patients who are starting to shop for health care. She worked on it this past summer as a National Health Journalism Fellow awarded a $2,000 grant from University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Journalism.

Bebinger also had a one-week digital journalism fellowship at the Poynter Institute in January and she will be in New York in September for a United Nations Foundation Fellowship on global health during which she will learn about global health issues from country leaders, UN experts, and representatives of nongovernmental organizations.

Beth Macy is a 2011 Ochberg Fellow at the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, where she will participate in a weeklong training program and attend the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies conference in November. Macy, a reporter for The Roanoke (Va.) Times, also won a 2011 Associated Press Managing Editors award for "Life and Death in the Time of Cholera," her story about post-earthquake Haiti. The Dart Society funded that trip, with support from the Nieman Foundation.

New Experiences for Latin American Fellows

Two Latin American journalists in the Nieman Class of 2012 will discover new ways to inform their communities, engage with readers, and foster a free press in their countries, thanks to a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The funding expands the long-established Knight Latin American Nieman Fellowships by supporting fieldwork projects for the journalists at the end of their academic year at Harvard. These projects may involve in-depth coverage of a story, the creation of a journalistic enterprise, or research on a policy and its impact.

"The new Knight Latin American Fellows will produce high-quality, relevant and credible journalism—the kind that is critical to sustaining democracy," said Amy Starlight Lawrence, Knight Foundation journalism program associate. "We hope the field projects allow the fellows to put their learning into practice, giving them an opportunity for greater impact and engagement in their own communities."

During the more than 20 years that the Knight Foundation has supported the Latin American fellowships at Harvard, 32 Latin American journalists have taken part. The Knight Nieman Fellows this year are:

  • Claudia Méndez Arriaza, an editor and staff writer for El Periódico and cohost of the television program "A las 8:45" in Guatemala, will study law and political science to better understand the rule of law in emerging democracies. In addition, she will explore American literature and its links to Latin American culture.
  • Carlos Eduardo Huertas, an investigations editor for Revista Semana in Colombia, plans to explore how to best design a journalism center for transnational investigations in Latin America.

"The Latin American journalists who have benefited from the Knight Fellowships are leaders in their field," said Ann Marie Lipinski, NF ’90 and the curator of the Nieman Foundation. "After studying with renowned scholars and experts at Harvard, they’ve returned home to shar
e their knowledge with colleagues and, in many different ways, have improved journalism throughout Latin America."

The fellows will collaborate with a number of organizations focused on Latin America to build a network of scholars and sources that can advance their fieldwork projects. Two key partners will be Harvard’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, where June Carolyn Erlick will advise fieldwork projects, and the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin, under the direction of Rosental Alves, NF ’88.

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