Povich Journalism Programs


March 4, 2020: LUNCH WITH TRISH HALL

Trish Hall was the "Op-Ed" editor of The New York Times for five years - tasked with deciding which guest submissions should get the green light to appear on the Times' commentary page (opposite the editorial page). Her new book, "Writing to Persuade," offers tips on how to write persuasive commentary, and recounts her experiences on the job. During her long Times career, she also wrote about food trends, ran the Sunday Business section, and reinvented real estate coverage.

Prior to The Times, she was a reporter at The Wall Street Journal, where she interviewed food company executives and wrote about the culture of eating. She also worked for The Associated Press, and for the Connecticut State News Bureau, covering state politics. Her website is trishhallbooks.com.

February 27, 2020: LUNCH WITH SEBASTIAN MODAK

Sebastian Modak is a travel writer and multimedia journalist based in New York City. In 2019, he was selected to be the New York Times 52 Places Traveler and spent the year traveling to and reporting from all the destinations on the Times's "52 Places to Go" list. Prior to that, Modak was part of the digital team at Condé Nast Traveler for three years where he was an editor and then a staff writer. He also has worked as a producer on the MTV World series "Rebel Music," and, as a 2013 Fulbright-mtvU Fellow, spent a year documenting the hip-hop scene in Gaborone, Botswana. Of mixed Colombian and Indian heritage, Modak has lived in six countries on four continents. In 2010, Modak received a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, where he majored in English and History and minored in Music and African Studies.

February 2, 2020: A CONVERSATION WITH DAVID ZUCCHINO

David Zucchino, author of the new book Wilmington's Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy, is a contributing writer for The New York Times. He was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1989 for his reporting from South Africa. He’s a four-time Pulitzer Prize finalist for coverage of Lebanon, Africa, inner-city Philadelphia, and Iraq. He has reported from more than three dozen countries, most recently from Iraq. He is the author of two other books - Thunder Run: The Armored Strike to Capture Baghdad (2004) and Myth of the Welfare Queen (1997). Zucchino worked as a foreign and national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times from 2001 to 2016, focusing on Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. Before that, he worked for 20 years at The Philadelphia Inquirer, as the bureau chief in Beirut, Lebanon; Nairobi, Kenya; and Johannesburg. For The Inquirer, he also covered the Middle East, Africa and wars in Chechnya and the former Yugoslavia.

December 2, 2019 : A CONVERSATION WITH DAVID MARANISS

David Maraniss is an associate editor at The Washington Post and a distinguished visiting professor at Vanderbilt University. He has won two Pulitzer Prizes for journalism and was a finalist three other times. Among his bestselling books are biographies of Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Roberto Clemente, and Vince Lombardi, and a trilogy about the 1960s—Rome 1960; Once in a Great City (winner of the RFK Book Prize); and They Marched into Sunlight (winner of the J. Anthony Lucas Prize and Pulitzer Finalist in History). A Good American Family is his twelfth book. Visit him at www.DavidMaraniss.com.

With A Good American Family, Maraniss examines the politics of the 1950s McCarthy era, a time of fear, paranoia, and injustice. It is also a powerful personal story of a son’s search to understand his father and what happened to his family during the Red Scare, one of the darkest periods in modern American history. At the heart is the story of Maraniss’s father. Elliott Maraniss, a World War II veteran who had commanded an all-black company in the Pacific, was spied on by the FBI, named as a communist by an informant, called before the House of Un-American Activities Committee, fired from his newspaper job, and blacklisted for five years.

November 21, 2019 : PODCASTS, POP CULTURE, NEWS: STEPHEN METCALF AND JUNE THOMAS

June Thomasis senior managing producer of the Slate Podcast Network and has worked at the magazine for more than 22 years. A former managing editor and foreign editor, she also wrote about television and popular culture and founded Outward, Slate’s LGBTQ section. She is currently one of the hosts of The Waves, Slate’s podcast about gender and feminism. June was born and raised in Manchester, England, but she has now spent most of her life in the United States.

Stephen Metcalf is a critic-at-large and columnist at Slate Magazine. He is also the host of the magazine’s weekly cultural podcast the Culture Gabfest.

November 11, 2019 : LUNCH WITH JANNY SCOTT

Janny Scott is a journalist and the author of two books, The Beneficiary: Fortune, Misfortune, and the Story of My Father and A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama's Mother. She was a reporter for The New York Times for fourteen years, writing about race, class, demographic change, and ideas. She was a member of the Times reporting team that won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting for the series "How Race Is Lived in America." In the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks, she and Christine Kay, a Times editor, conceived Portraits of Grief, a series of thumbnail profiles of several thousand victims, which appeared in the Times every day for months. She was previously a reporter for the Los Angeles Times and The Record of Bergen County, New Jersey. Her first book, a New York Times bestseller, was the runner up for the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography and one of Time magazine's top ten nonfiction books of 2011. She has appeared on The Colbert Report, Today, MSNBC, C-Span, Fresh Air with Terry Gross, the Leonard Lopate Show and other television and radio programs. She is a graduate of Harvard College and lives in New York City.

November 9, 2019 : A CONVERSATION WITH BUZZ BISSINGER (C’76)

Buzz Bissinger is among the nation’s most honored and distinguished writers. A native of New York City, Bissinger is the winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Livingston Award, the American Bar Association Silver Gavel Award and the National Headliners Award, among others. He also was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. He is the author of the highly acclaimed nonfiction books: Friday Night Lights, A Prayer for the City, Three Nights in August, Shooting Stars, and Father’s Day.

Bissinger has been a reporter for some of the nation’s most prestigious newspapers; a magazine writer with published work in Vanity Fair, The New York Times Magazine and Sports Illustrated; and a co-producer and writer for the ABC television drama NYPD Blue. Two of his works were made into the critically acclaimed films: Friday Night Lights and Shattered Glass. Three more are in active development. Friday Night Lights also served as the inspiration for the television series of the same name.

November 6, 2019 : Lunch with ERIC BOEHLERT

ERIC BOEHLERT is a veteran progressive writer and media analyst. A former staff writer for Rolling Stone and Salon, Boehlert spent ten years as a senior fellow at Media Matters for America, writing about GOP misinformation , the rise of Fox News as a source of propaganda, and the Beltway media's disdain for Hillary Clinton. He is the author of three books: Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush, Bloggers on the Bus, and Killing Truth: The Lies and Legends of Bill O'Reilly.

October 21, 2019 : LUNCH WITH Zaina Erhaim

Zaina Erhaim is an award-winning Syrian journalist, working as the Communication Manager with the Institute for War and Peace Reporting. Zaina received the first Annita Auspurg Award: Rebel Woman For Peace By WILFP. She was named Journalist of the Year by Reporters without Borders in 2015, one of the ‘100 Most Powerful Arab Women' according to Arabian Business and one of the Unsung Heroes of 2016 by Reuters Thomson.

October 16, 2019 : A Celebration of "Plague by Fire"

Paul Hendrickson is the author of the New York Times best seller and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, Hemingway's Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost, and Sons of Mississippi: A Story of Race and Its Legacy, which won the 2003 National Book Critics Circle Award. Since 1998 he has been on the faculty of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Pennsylvania. For two decades before that, he was a staff writer at The Washington Post. Among his other books are Looking for the Light: The Hidden Life and Art of Marion Post Wolcott (1992 finalist for the NBCC award) and The Living and the Dead: Robert McNamara and Five Lives of a Lost War (1996 finalist for the National Book Award). He has been the recipient of writing fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Lyndhurst Foundation, and the Alicia Patterson Foundation. In 2009 he was a joint visiting professor of documentary practice at Duke University and of American studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the father of two grown sons, both of whom work in media, and he lives with his wife, Cecilia, a retired nurse, in Washington, D.C., and outside Philadelphia.

October 7, 2019 : Writing Obituaries for The New York Times: Lunch with Katherine Seelye

Obituaries are one of the best-read features in The New York Times, which is why Katharine Q. Seelye signed up to write them. Before taking on her new beat, "Kit" covered national news and politics for The Times since 1994. She has served since 2012 as the paper's New England bureau chief, based in Boston. Before moving to Boston, Ms. Seelye worked in the Washington bureau for 12 years and covered multiple beats, from Congress to the White House, and she slogged along "on the bus" on six presidential campaigns. She pioneered The Times's online coverage of politics, and in 2007 became the paper's first online political writer.

October 3, 2019 : LUNCH WITH CHRISTINE GROSS-LOH

Christine Gross-Loh is a journalist and author. Her most recent book is The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About the Good Life, coauthored with Professor Michael Puett. The Path, an international bestseller, has been published in nearly 30 countries. She is also the author of Parenting Without Borders: Surprising Things Parents Around the World Can Teach Us. Christine has written on history, education, philosophy, and parenting for the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Guardian, and other outlets. She has a Ph.D. in East Asian history from Harvard University.

September 19, 2019 : CAREERS IN JOURNALISM AND NEW MEDIA: ALUMNI PANEL

Ashley Parker is a White House reporter for The Washington Post. She was part of the Washington Post team that won a Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 2018, for their coverage of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. She joined The Post in 2017, after 11 years at the New York Times, where she covered the 2012 and 2016 presidential campaigns, and Congress, among other things. She is an NBC/MSNBC senior political analyst, and has also written for The New York Times Sunday Magazine, Glamour, and The Washingtonian, as well as other publications. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2005, with a degree in both English and Communications, and lives in Washington, D.C.

Luis Ferré-Sadurní was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico and graduated from Penn in 2017 with a major in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE). At Penn, he worked for a few semesters at The Daily Pennsylvanian as a senior writer and politics reporter, covering the New Hampshire primaries in 2016 and investigating Trump's history of donating (or not donating) to the university. After graduation, he moved to New York City for a three-month internship at the New York Times metro desk. He ended up covering Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria’s devastating impact in the Caribbean, and spent more than a month reporting for theTimes in Puerto Rico. He was hired as a full-time reporter for the Times in December 2017, and covered crime, criminal justice issues and general assignments for the metro desk. He currently covers housing in New York City.

Jessica Goodman is a senior editor at Cosmopolitan magazine, where she edits stories about career, money, travel, love, and food. She and her team received a National Magazine Award for their 2017 story, How to Run for Office. Previously, she was a digital news editor at Entertainment Weekly and an entertainment editor at HuffPost. Her debut YA novel, THE PLAYERS' TABLE, will be out in 2020 from PenguinTeen.

Stephen Fried is an award-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author who teaches at Penn and Columbia. He is the author of six nonfiction books, including the acclaimed biographies RUSH: Revolution, Madness and Benjamin Rush, the Visionary Doctor Who Became a Founding Father (a finalist for the 2019 George Washington Book Prize), Appetite for America: Fred Harvey and the Business of Civilizing the Wild West—One Meal at a Time and Thing of Beauty: The Tragedy of Supermodel Gia, and co-author with Patrick Kennedy of A Common Struggle: A Personal Journey Through the Past and Future of Mental Illness and Addiction. A two-time winner of the National Magazine Award, Fried has been a staff writer at Vanity Fair, GQ, Glamour and Philadelphia Magazine. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife, author Diane Ayres.

May 18, 2019 : Covering Tech in the Digital Age

Mike Murphy is a deputy editor at Quartz, covering technology. He focuses on "machines with brains" and consumer electronics. He likes to write about the future and the products that will get us there. He graduated from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern and the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to journalism, Murphy worked in advertising and technology marketing. He lives in Brooklyn.

Arielle Pardes (C ’14) is a senior associate editor for Wired Magazine. Her work explores the intersection of technology and society, including investigations into the rise of IRL spaces made for Instagram, Silicon Valley’s backlash against personal technology, and the racial identity of robots. Previously, she was a senior editor for VICE in Los Angeles. She now lives in San Francisco.

Albert Sun is an Assistant Editor at The New York Times on a team charged with guiding the overall presentation of The New York Times across all platforms and internal newsroom workflow and tools. He leads product development efforts for the Times's publishing on languages other than English and digital archiving. Previously, he worked on the Morning Briefing and as a data journalist and engineer, covering health and science and building news apps.

April 24, 2019 : A CONVERSATION WITH DOUGLAS BRINKLEY

Douglas Brinkley is the Katherine Tsanoff Brown Chair in Humanities and Professor of History at Rice University, the CNN Presidential Historian, and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. He works in many capacities in the world of public history, including on boards, museums, colleges and historical societies. The Chicago Tribune dubbed him “America's New Past Master.” The New-York Historical Society has chosen Brinkley their official U.S. Presidential Historian. His recent book Cronkite won the Sperber Prize while The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast received the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. He has received a Grammy Award for Presidential Suite and seven honorary doctorates in American Studies. His two-volume annotated The Nixon Tapes recently won the Arthur S. Link – Warren F. Kuehl Prize. His newest book is American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race. He is a member of the Century Association, Council of Foreign Relations and the James Madison Council of the Library of Congress. He lives in Austin, Texas with his wife and three children.

March 27, 2019 : LUNCH WITH EMILY JANE FOX (C’11)

Emily Jane Fox is a senior reporter for Vanity Fair, and author of the 2018 book Born Trump: Inside America’s First Family. Fox graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2011. In the summer between her junior and senior year she worked as an intern at the White House. She went on to study at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. After graduation from Columbia she started her journalism career as a business reporter for CNN. In addition to her work for Vanity Fair, Fox is a contributor to both NBC News and MSNBC.

February 18, 2019 : LUNCH WITH JOURNALIST HELEN UBIÑAS

HELEN UBIÑAS is an award-winning columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News and Philly.com. Prior to coming to Philadelphia, Ubiñas was a longtime reporter and columnist for the Hartford Courant, Connecticut's longest continuously published newspaper, where she was awarded numerous honors, including a team Pulitzer Prize for breaking news in 1999. Ubiñas was born in New York City. She received her bachelor's degree from Boston University and her master's degree from Trinity College. In 2000, she became the Courant's first Latina news columnist. In 2007, she was one of 12 US journalists awarded the prestigious John S. Knight journalism fellowship at Stanford University. She's also received several awards since becoming a columnist in Philadelphia, including first place in column-writing at the 2014 Keystone Press Award. In 2017, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists awarded her top honors for her columns.

November 15, 2018 : LUNCH WITH DANA MILBANK

Dana Milbank is a nationally syndicated op-ed columnist at the Washington Post. He also provides political commentary for various TV outlets, and he is the author of three books on politics, including the national bestseller Homo Politicus. Milbank joined the Post in 2000 as a Style political writer, then covered the presidency of George W. Bush as a White House correspondent before starting the column in 2005. Before joining the Post, Milbank spent two years as a senior editor at the New Republic, where he covered the Clinton White House, and eight years as a reporter with the Wall Street Journal, where he covered Congress and was a London-based correspondent.

October 24, 2018 : CRAFTING COMPELLING NARRATIVES WITH AUDIO

Laura Starecheski is a senior reporter and producer for Reveal at The Center for Investigative Reporting, where her work has won a National Edward R. Murrow award, among others. She previously reported on health for NPR's Science Desk and was a staffer at State of the Re:Union (SOTRU) with host Al Letson. Her Radiolab story "Goat on a Cow" won a Third Coast Silver Award for Best Documentary, and SOTRU's "The Hospital Always Wins" won a Murrow award and Third Coast Director's Choice. Laura was a 2012 Rosalynn Carter Fellow for Mental Health Journalism and 2014 Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan. All of her work is archived here for easy listening. She serves on the board of AIR (The Association of Independents in Radio) and lives in Philly with her wife and two dogs.

Kathy Tu is the co-host and co-managing editor of Nancy, a podcast about the LGBTQ experience today. Prior to Nancy, Kathy worked on The Memory Palace, The Mortified Podcast, Masterpiece Studio, Radiolab, and others. And prior to that she was an EMT and law school grad. It's been a trip. Kathy's on twitter @_kathytu.

Neena Pathak produces the Still Processing podcast at The New York Times. She used to produce the Another Round podcast at BuzzFeed, and worked in public radio and education before that. She lives in New York.

October 24, 2018 : LUNCH WITH JOURNALIST JAY ROSEN

Jay Rosen, who teaches journalism at New York University, is the author of PressThink, a weblog about journalism that he created in 2003. Two years later, PressThink won the Reporters Without Borders Freedom Blog award for outstanding defense of free expression. In 1999, Yale University Press published his book, What Are Journalists For? As a press critic and reviewer, he has published in The Nation, Columbia Journalism Review, the Chronicle of Higher Education, The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and others. Online, he has written for Salon.com, TomPaine.com, Poynter.org, and The Huffington Post. In 1994 he was a fellow at the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University, and in 1990-91 he held a fellowship at the Gannett Center for Media Studies at Columbia University. He has a Ph.D. from NYU in media studies (1986).

October 11, 2018: a Talk by Nate Chinen

Nate Chinen is the author of Playing Changes: Jazz for the New Century (Pantheon, 2018). He has been writing about jazz for more than twenty years, notably for The New York Times, JazzTimes and the Philadelphia City Paper. As the director of editorial content at WBGO, he works with the multiplatform program Jazz Night in America and contributes a range of coverage to NPR Music. An eleven-time winner of the Helen Dance–Robert Palmer Award for Excellence in Writing, presented by the Jazz Journalists Association, he is also coauthor of Myself Among Others: A Life in Music, the autobiography of impresario George Wein. A former assistant coordinator at the Kelly Writers House, he now lives in Beacon, New York, with his wife and two daughters.


September 17, 2018: Lunch with Maya Rao

Maya Rao is a D.C. correspondent for the Minneapolis Star Tribune and has written for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Houston Chronicle, Atlantic, Awl and Longreads. She is the author of the 2018 book Great American Oupost.


September 13, 2018: Careers in Journalism and New Media

Jill Castellano is an investigative reporter and data analyst for inewsource. Castellano graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with degrees in psychology and criminology and was editor-in-chief of the school newspaper, the Daily Pennsylvanian. She has interned at the New York Daily News, Forbes and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Castellano was a Dow Jones Data Fellow in 2016 — its first class of data journalists. She was trained by data experts at the headquarters of Investigative Reporters and Editors in Columbia, Missouri, and spent the summer working as a data reporter for the Salt Lake Tribune. In September 2016, Castellano joined The Desert Sun in Palm Springs as an investigations editor. She mentored reporters in the USA TODAY Network on data analysis and public records, and she collaborated with other newsrooms on data-driven enterprise stories. She was part of a team from the USA TODAY Network that won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Reporting for a project on the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

Jessica Goodman is a senior editor at Cosmopolitan magazine, where she oversees the Work + Play section. She and her team won a National Magazine Award in Personal Service for last year's package, How to Run For Office. Previously, she was a digital news editor at Entertainment Weekly and an entertainment editor at HuffPost. Jessica graduated from Penn's College of Arts and Sciences in 2012 and from Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism in 2013. While at Penn, she was the editor-in-chief of 34th Street Magazine.

Ashley Parker is a White House reporter at the Washington Post. She was part of the Washington Post team that won a 2018 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting — for their look at Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. She was also part of the Post team that won a 2018 George Polk award for reporting on the same topic. Previously, she worked at the New York Times for eleven years, where she covered politics — Mitt Romney in 2012 and Jeb Bush and Donald Trump in 2016 — and Congress, as well as other things. She started at the paper as Maureen Dowd's research assistant. She has also written for the New York Times Sunday Magazine, Glamour, The Huffington Post, The Washingtonian, The New York Sun, Philadelphia Weekly, and Chicago Magazine, and is an MSNBC political analyst. She graduated from Penn in 2005, with a double major in English (creative writing) and Communications.

Stephen Fried (C ’79) is an award-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author who teaches at Penn, and at Columbia (in the departments of journalism and psychiatry.) He is the author of seven acclaimed nonfiction books, most recently RUSH: Revolution, Madness and Benjamin Rush, The Visionary Doctor Who Became a Founding Father (Crown). A two-time winner of the National Magazine Award, his work has appeared in Smithsonian, Vanity Fair, GQ, Glamour, and Philadelphia magazine. Fried lives in Philadelphia, with his wife, author Diane Ayres.


April 11, 2018: Lunch with Alec MacGillis

Alec MacGillis covers politics and government for ProPublica. MacGillis previously spent three years writing for The New Republic, five years as a national reporter for The Washington Post, and five years at The Baltimore Sun. He won the 2016 Robin Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting, the 2017 Polk Award for National Reporting, and the 2017 Scripps-Howard Award for Topic of the Year. His work has appeared in the New Yorker, Atlantic, New York, Harper's, and New York Times Magazine, among other publications. A resident of Baltimore, MacGillis is also the author of The Cynic, a 2014 biography of Sen. Mitch McConnell.


March 28, 2018: Lunch with Michael Sokolove

Michael Sokolove is the author of four books, including Drama High: The Incredible True Story of a Brilliant Teacher, a Struggling Town and the Magic of Theater, which has been adapted for the NBC prime-time show, Rise. Premiering March 13, Rise is executive produced by Jeffrey Seller, best known for the Broadway show Hamilton. Since 2001 Sokolove has been a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine, where he has written about the science, culture and sociology of sports, as well as politics and a broad range of other topics.


February 28, 2018: a Conversation with Jamelle Bouie and Stephen Metcalf

Jamelle Bouie is the chief political correspondent for Slate magazine, and a political analyst for CBS News. He covers campaigns, elections, and national affairs. His work has appeared either online or in print at the New Yorker, the Washington Post, The Nation, and other publications.

Stephen Metcalf is a critic-at-large and columnist at Slate magazine. He is also the host of the magazine's weekly cultural podcast the Culture Gabfest.


February 12, 2018: Ben Yagoda: the Art of Fact

Now more than ever, journalists are thinking about the importance of accuracy and credibility of reporting. Join us for a lunch talk with Ben Yagoda, journalist, film critic, and author of a dozen books including The Arts of Fact. Yagoda will discuss the issue of accuracy across all journalistic modes, in a freewheeling conversation moderated by Dick Polman.

BEN YAGODA is the author or coauthor of twelve books, including Will Rogers: A Biography, About Town: The New Yorker and the World It Made, Memoir: A History, and The Art of Fact: A Historical Anthology of Literary Journalism. He has worked as the film critic of the Philadelphia Daily News, an editor at Philadelphia Magazine, and since 1992 as a professor of journalism at the University of Delaware. He has contributed to the New York Times Magazine, Esquire, The American Scholar, Smithsonian, and magazines that start with every letter of the alphabet except K, Q, X, and Z. He conducts a blog called Not One-Off Britishisms, and contributes a weekly post to the Chronicle of Higher Education blog about language and writing, Lingua Franca. He lives in Swarthmore PA.


October 18, 2017: Lunch with Matthew Nussbaum of Politico

Matthew Nussbaum is a White House reporter at POLITICO. He joined POLITICO in January, 2016 and covered the federal budget before hopping on the campaign trail in July, 2016 to cover GOP Vice Presidential nominee Mike Pence. He has covered the current administration since Election Day. Nussbaum previously worked or interned for the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Denver Post, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He is a graduate of Yale University and a native of Haddonfield, New Jersey.


October 9, 2017: Lunch with David Gambacorta

David Gambacorta is a writer-at-large at the Philadelphia Inquirer who focuses on longform storytelling projects that cover politics, criminal justice and everything in between. He previously worked as a senior reporter at Philadelphia Magazine, and as a staff writer at the Philadelphia Daily News. He's also written for Esquire, The Baffler, Longreads, and The Marshall Project.


September 27, 2017: Lunch with Alex Koppelman


Alex Koppelman is senior editor for CNN Media. Prior to joining CNN, Koppelman was editorial director of Vocativ. He has also served as enterprise editor at Guardian US, and as politics editor of NewYorker.com, and was a senior writer at Salon.com. An Emmy and National Magazine Award winner, Koppelman is a 2005 Penn grad.

September 18, 2017: Media & Journalism at Penn

A roundtable discussion featuring students, staff and faculty devoted to how opportunities at Penn, from the Creative Writing Program's Journalistic Writing Minor to paid internship opportunities through the RealArts program to networking events at the Writers House, can prepare you for a career in reporting, editing, photojournalism, social media, or other areas of journalism. Open to all.

Chloe Shakin is a senior English major and Journalistic Writing minor. She serves on the Editorial and Business Boards of The Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. and Executive Board of 34th Street Magazine as Street's Audience Engagement Director. Chloe was given a RealArts stipend to work as a digital communications intern in the Mayor's Press Office in Philadelphia during the summer of 2016. This past summer, Chloe worked as a marketing intern at The New York Times on its Media Management team (which is responsible for generating digital subscriptions).

R.J. Bernocco is Associate Director of the RealArts@Penn program at University of Pennsylvania. RealArts@Penn connects Penn undergraduates with paid internship opportunities, mentorship prospects and arts related professional development. R.J. has been a part of the Penn community for eleven years. He holds a Bachelors degree in Film and Media Arts from Temple University as well as his Masters in Public Administration from University of Pennsylvania. In his down time, he can be found listening to records, browsing record stores or walking his dog around South Philly.

Mingo Reynolds is Director of Adminstration at the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing and Director of RealArts@Penn, which connects Penn undergraduates with paid internship opportunities, mentorship prospects and arts related professional development.

Dan Spinelli is a College senior from the Philadelphia suburbs and editor of The Daily Pennsylvanian, Penn's student newspaper. He has previously interned at The Philadelphia Daily News, POLITICO, and Forbes.

Dick Polman is the Maury Povich Writer in Residence at Penn as well as a political columnist for WHYY/Newsworks. As a 22-year staff reporter at The Philadelphia Inquirer, he covered five presidential campaigns as the paper's national political writer and columnist; helmed the London bureau as a foreign correspondent; covered the Philadelphia Phillies; and was a long-form contributor to the Inquirer's Sunday magazine. Prior to the Inquirer, he was a metro columnist on The Hartford Courant, and was the founding editor of an alternative newspaper, the Hartford Advocate.


September 18, 2017: Careers in Journalism & New Media

Our annual Careers in Media alumni panel — sponsored by KWH, the Daily Pennsylvanian, the Creative Writing Program, and the Nora Magid Mentorship Prize — focuses on how you can prepare for first jobs and careers in print, broadcast and online media, publishing, and related fields, as well as how to make decisions about extracurriculars, internships and grad school in these areas. This year's panel includes:

Ashley Parker is a White House reporter at the Washington Post. Previously, she worked at the New York Times for 11 years, where she covered politics — Mitt Romney in 2012 and Jeb Bush and Donald Trump in 2016 — and Congress, as well as other things. She started at the paper as Maureen Dowd's research assistant. She has also written for The New York Times Sunday Magazine, Glamour, The Huffington Post, The Washingtonian, The New York Sun, Philadelphia Weekly, and Chicago Magazine, and is an MSNBC political analyst. She graduated from Penn in 2005, with a double major in English (creative writing) and Communications.

Joe Pinsker is an associate editor at The Atlantic, where he writes and edits stories about business and economics. The pieces he writes typically focus on the intersection between money and culture, usually involving topics such as food, advertising, technology, and entertainment. He also covers academic research, often in the realms of social mobility, consumer psychology, and personal finance. At Penn, Joe studied English (with a concentration in Creative Writing) and was the Managing Editor of 34th Street. He graduated in 2013 and currently lives in Washington, DC.

Jessica Goodman is a senior editor at Cosmopolitan magazine. Previously, she was a digital news editor at Entertainment Weekly and an Entertainment Editor at HuffPost. Jessica graduated from the College in 2012 and from Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism in 2013. While at Penn, she was the Editor-in-Chief of 34th Street Magazine.

Stephen Fried is an adjunct professor at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the author of five acclaimed books, including Appetite for America: Fred Harvey and the Business of Civilizing the West—One Meal at a Time (named one of the Top Ten Books of the Year by the Wall Street Journal) and Thing of Beauty: The Tragedy of Supermodel Gia (which introduced the word "fashionista" into the English language and inspired the Emmy-winning film Gia with Angelina Jolie.) A two-time winner of the National Magazine Award, Fried has written for Vanity Fair, GQ, The Washington Post Magazine, Rolling Stone, Glamour, Ladies' Home Journal, Parade and Philadelphia magazine. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife, author Diane Ayres.


April 4, 2017: Wesley Morris, Stephen Metcalf, & Al Filreis

Stephen Metcalf is critic-at-large and columnist at Slate magazine. He is also the host of the magazine's weekly cultural podcast the Culture Gabfest, which features Metcalf along with Dana Stevens, Julia Turner, and special guests, in conversation about movies, books, TV, and more. Metcalf's work has appeared in The New York Times, The New York Observer and New York (magazine), among many other outlets. Currently, he is writing a book about the 1980s.

Wesley Morris is an American journalist and critic-at-large for The New York Times. Previously, Morris wrote for The Boston Globe, then Grantland. He won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Criticism for his work with The Globe.


March 29, 2017: Lunch with Jennifer Lin

Author of Shanghai Faithful, Jennifer Lin is an award-wining journalist and former reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer. In a distinguished thirty-year career, she served as the paper’s New York financial correspondent, Washington foreign affairs reporter, and Asia bureau chief, based in China.

Shanghai Faithful is both a touching family memoir and a chronicle of the astonishing spread of Christianity in China. Within the next decade, China could be home to more Christians than any country in the world. Through the 150-year saga of a single family, this book vividly dramatizes the remarkable religious evolution of the world’s most populous nation. Five generations of the Lin family—buffeted by history’s crosscurrents and personal strife—bring to life an epoch that is still unfolding.


March 15, 2017: Lunch with Andrew Rosenthal

Andrew Rosenthal became an Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times in June 2016 after more than nine years as the Editorial Page editor of The Times, overseeing the newspaper’s Opinion section. He previously was deputy Editorial Page editor, starting in August 2003. Before that, Mr. Rosenthal had been an assistant managing editor since September 2001 and the foreign editor beginning in May 1997. He also served as national editor of The Times for six months in 2000, supervising coverage of the presidential election and the post-election recount.

Mr. Rosenthal was The Times’s Washington editor beginning in November 1992. He joined the company in March 1987 as a Washington correspondent. While in Washington, he covered the first Bush administration, the 1988 and 1992 presidential elections and the Persian Gulf War. He also supervised coverage of the 1994 and 1996 national elections.


February 22, 2017: Lunch with Steve Twomey

Steve Twomey began his career in journalism as a copyboy at the Chicago Tribune when he was in high school. After graduating from Northwestern University, he began a fourteen-year career at The Philadelphia Inquirer, during which he won the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing, and then worked at The Washington Post for the next thirteen years. More recently, he has written for Smithsonian and other magazines and has taught narrative writing at the graduate schools of New York University and the City University of New York. The ghostwriter of What I Learned When I Almost Died and author of Countdown to Pearl Harbor, Twomey lives in Montclair, New Jersey, with his wife, Kathleen Carroll.


February 20, 2017: Matt Flegenheimer

Matt Flegenheimer is a staff writer at The New York Times. As a political reporter In 2016, he covered the Bush, Cruz, Clinton and Trump campaigns. This year he is based in Washington, D.C., covering Congress. He's a University of Pennsylvania graduate, Class of 2011.

November 7, 2016: Lunch with Eric Umansky of Propublica

Eric Umansky is a deputy managing editor of ProPublica, where he edited their Pulitzer Prize-winning series about Wall Street. Previously, he wrote a column for Slate and was editor of Motherjones.com. He's also written for The New York Times Magazine, Washington Post, The New Republic, and elsewhere. He is also a co-founder of Document Cloud. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.


October 27, 2016: Lunch with Kathleen Parker

KATHLEEN PARKER writes a twice-weekly column on politics and culture for The Washington Post. In 2010, she received the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for “her perceptive, often witty columns on an array of political and moral issues, gracefully sharing the experiences and values that lead her to unpredictable conclusions.” A Florida native, Parker started her column in 1987 when she was a staff writer for the Orlando Sentinel. She joined the Washington Post Writers Group in 2006. She is the author of Save the Males: Why Men Matter, Why Women Should Care (2008).


September 28, 2016: Lunch with Uri Friedman

URI FRIEDMAN is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he covers global affairs. He was previously the editor of The Atlantic's Global section and the deputy managing editor at Foreign Policy magazine.


September 19, 2016: Media Day: Opportunities on Campus

For students considering a career in media or looking to add to their reporting, story-telling and networking skills, this roundtable discussion with Penn alumni, faculty, and students will offer information about Penn's journalism minor and strategies for exploring nonfiction courses, independent studies, grants, prizes, and internships, including information about RealArts@Penn program.

JESSICA GOODMAN is a digital news editor at Entertainment Weekly, where she covers music and books. She graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences in 2012 and from Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism in 2013.

TAYLOR HOSKING is a senior majoring in Urban Studies with a passion for political journalism. On campus she's written for IMPACT Magazine and performed her spoken-word poetry as a member of The Excelano Project. In Philly, she has interned with the News and Politics desk of PhillyMag.com and the editorial board of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Her work focuses largely on systemic discrimination and inter-cultural dialogue.

CASEY QUACKENBUSH is a senior from Connecticut studying history and journalism. At Penn, she served four semesters as an editor and writer for 34th Street, and completed an independent study in journalism with Professor Stephen Fried. Last summer she interned as a reporter for The New York Observer's arts and culture section. This summer she held a reporting fellowship at Time in Hong Kong. She also received KWH's Heled Research and Travel Grant to investigate cheese-making on Mont Blanc.

LAINE HIGGINS is a college senior from Minneapolis, Minn., majoring in International Relations with a Journalistic Writing minor. At Penn she served as a sports editor at the Daily Pennsylvanian for three semesters, took an independent study in journalism with Professor Stephen Fried, and is a captain of the women's swim and dive team. During the summers she interned at USA Today Sports, the Philadelphia Inquirer and Sports Illustrated.

AVERY ROME is a longtime journalist, editor and teacher. She worked at the Philadelphia Inquirer from 1979 to 2012, serving as a top editor in charge of projects and writing. For 11 years she was the editor of Inquirer Magazine. During her newspaper career she won 40 awards, and projects she guided into print won over 200 prizes. A graduate of Swarthmore College, she began teaching writing and journalism at Penn in 2006 and shortly thereafter began coaching Wharton MBA students in writing. Since she left the Inquirer, she has edited fiction and nonfiction books, plays and screenplays. She also helps grow fresh produce for the West Chester Food Cupboard at Rushton Farm in Chester County.


September 19, 2016: Media Day:Careers in Media

Our annual Careers in Media alumni panel — sponsored by KWH, the Daily Pennsylvanian, and the Nora Magid Mentorship Prize — focuses on how you can prepare for first jobs and careers in print, broadcast and online media, publishing, and related fields, as well as how to make decisions about extracurriculars, internships and grad school in these areas. This year’s panel includes Jessica Sidman (’08), food editor at Washingtonian magazine; Maria Popova (C’07), the founder and brains behind Brainpickings.com; Jessica Goodman (C’12), the digital news editor of Entertainment Weekly; David Borgenicht (C ‘90), bestselling nonfiction author, and owner and publisher of Quirk Books; and moderator Stephen Fried (’79), award-winning journalist and bestselling author who teaches at Penn and Columbia J-School and mentors longform nonfiction writers.

At the this panel you’ll also learn more about the Nora Magid Mentorship Prize for the top senior nonfiction writer/editor, and other opportunities for internships and networking.

THE NORA MAGID MENTORSHIP PRIZE is given each year to a senior at the University of Pennsylvania who shows exceptional ability and promise in writing/reporting/editing, and who would benefit most from combined mentorship of Nora's network of former students and their colleagues in traditional and new media. The prize is $3000 to be used however the student chooses for their professional development—including being used as a stipend for post-grad internships that require one. The winner also receives unparalleled access to a constantly growing network of Penn alumni—including Nora's former students and over a decade of Nora Prize-winners—as well as their extensive web of colleagues who can assist in the student’s career. It is open to all seniors at Penn, although preference is given to those who expect to attempt to make careers in some form of media.

DAVID BORGENICHT (C'90) is the CEO and owner of Philadelphia book publisher Quirk Books, co-author of the best-selling Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook. Quirk publishes 25 books a year, including international best-seller Pride & Prejudice & Zombies.

JESSICA GOODMAN (C'12) is a Digital News Editor at Entertainment Weekly, where she runs the music and books sections of EW.com. Previously, she was an Entertainment Editor at The Huffington Post, and has written for the Village Voice, Mashable, NYMag.com and Noisey.

MARIA POPOVA (C'07) is a reader and writer, and writes about what she reads on her Brain Pickings blog, which is included in the Library of Congress archive of culturally valuable materials. She has also written for Wired UK and The Atlantic, The New York Times and Smithsonian Magazine. In 2012, she was named among the 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company Magazine.

STEPHEN FRIED (C'79) (moderator) is a best-selling and award-winning journalist who teaches non-fiction writing at Penn and the Journalism School at Columbia University. He is a former contributing editor at Vanity Fair, GQ, Glamour and Philadelphia Magazine.


September 13, 2016: David Grann & Stephen Metcalf

DAVID GRANN is a longtime staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Lost City of Z. Named one of the best books of the year by the Times, the Washington Post, and other publications, it has been translated into more than twenty languages and made into a major motion picture. He is also the author of The Devil and Sherlock Holmes and the upcoming book, Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, which is about one of the most sinister crimes in American history. His investigative reporting and writing have garnered several awards, including a George Polk.

STEPHEN METCALF is critic-at-large and columnist at Slate magazine. He is also the host of the magazine's weekly cultural podcast the Culture Gabfest, which features Metcalf along with Dana Stevens, Julia Turner, and special guests, in conversation about movies, books, TV, and more. Metcalf's work has appeared in The New York Times, The New York Observer and New York (magazine), among many other outlets. Currently, he is writing a book about the 1980s.


February 17, 2016: Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman writes for the Plum Line blog at The Washington Post and The Week and is the author of Being Right is Not Enough: What Progressives Must Learn From Conservative Success. He is also a weekly columnist and senior writer for The American Prospect.


February 1, 2016: Karen Heller

Karen Heller is national general features writer for The Washington Post's Style section. She was previously a metro columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer, where she also reported on popular culture, politics and social issues. She has won awards for investigative reporting, feature writing and criticism and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for commentary.


November 9, 2015: Fred Bowen

Fred Bowen was a Little Leaguer who loved to read. Now he is the author of 21 action-packed chapter books for kids, including his most recent, Out of Bounds. He has also written a weekly sports column for kids in The Washington Post since 2000. For years, Fred coached kids’ baseball, soccer and basketball teams. Some of his stories spring directly from his coaching experience and his sports-happy childhood in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Fred holds a degree in history from the University of Pennsylvania and a law degree from George Washington University. He was a lawyer for thirty years before retiring to become a full-time children’s author. Bowen has been a guest author at hundreds of schools and conferences across the country, as well as the National Book Festival in Washington, DC, and The Baseball Hall of Fame. Fred lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with his wife Peggy Jackson. Their son, Liam, is the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator for the University of Maryland – Baltimore County (UMBC) and their daughter, Kerry, is in a Masters program in Denver studying to become a teacher and a reading specialist. Fred's website is fredbowen.com.


November 5, 2015: Matt Bai

Matt Bai is an author, journalist, screenwriter and Yankee fan. He’s also one of the nation’s leading voices on American politics. Matt is best known for stories that explore change in society — generational, technological, economic — and how that change is breaking down old institutions and transforming the politics of a new century. His second book, All the Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid, was published in October 2014 by Alfred A. Knopf. Matt is the national political columnist at Yahoo News, which he joined in January 2014. Before that, he was chief political correspondent for The New York Times Magazine, where he covered three presidential elections, and a columnist for both the magazine and The Times. Everything you ever wanted to know about Matt (including his brief but stellar acting career) is in his official bio.


November 2, 2015: Todd Vanderweff

Todd VanDerWerff is the culture editor for Vox and the former TV editor of The A.V. Club. He's also worked at several newspapers and on a pig farm. He's suppose to write a book one of these days, so keep an eye out for that.


October 5, 2015: Sheila Weller

Sheila Weller is a bestselling author and multiple-award-winning magazine journalist specializing in women’s lives. She writes frequently for Vanity Fair and Glamour, she is a former Contributing Editor to New York and Self and Redbook, a reviewer for The New York Times Book Review, a feature writer for The New York Times Styles Section, and has written and writes for (among others) Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, and Rolling Stone. Her seventh book, The News Sorority: Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, Christiane Amanpour – and The Triumph of Women in TV News, was in 2014. Her sixth book, in 2008, was Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon - And The Journey of a Generation. She has won 10 major magazine awards. A California native, she lives in New York City.


September 30, 2015: David Maraniss

David Maraniss is an associate editor at The Washington Post. In addition to Barack Obama: The Story, Maraniss is the author of five critically acclaimed and bestselling books, When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi, First in His Class: A Biography of Bill Clinton, They Marched Into Sunlight – War and Peace, Vietnam and America, October 1967, Clemente – The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero, and Rome 1960: The Summer Olympics That Stirred the World. He is also the author of Into the Story: A Writer’s Journey Through Life, Politics, Sports and Loss, The Clinton Enigma and coauthor of The Prince of Tennessee: Al Gore Meets His Fate and "Tell Newt to Shut Up!"

David is a three-time Pulitzer Prize finalist and won the Pulitzer for national reporting in 1993 for his newspaper coverage of then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton. He also was part of The Washington Post team that won a 2008 Pulitzer for the newspaper's coverage of the Virginia Tech shooting. He has won several other notable awards for achievements in journalism, including the George Polk Award, the Dirksen Prize for Congressional Reporting, the ASNE Laventhol Prize for Deadline Writing, the Hancock Prize for Financial Writing, the Anthony Lukas Book Prize, the Frankfort Book Prize, the Eagleton Book Prize, the Ambassador Book Prize, and Latino Book Prize.


September 29, 2015: Careers in Journalism and New Media


This year’s annual Careers in Journalism & New Media panel featured as guests Penn alumni David Borgenicht (C’90), Jess Goodman (C’12) and John Prendergast (C’80), along with moderator Stephen Fried (C’79). As Jessica Lowenthal explained in her introduction, the program was inspired by former Penn writing professor Nora Magid, who Fried remembers as a mentor for aspiring writers: “whenever you were about to go to law school,” he recounted, “she sat you down and had the talk.” In Nora’s spirit, the panel members shared career advice with the audience of aspiring journalists. They encouraged students not to lose hope in their prospects too quickly: Borgenicht, currently the CEO of Quirk Books, spent his first year out of college waiting tables and canvassing for an environmental group. “That got me ready for book publishing,” he noted, “because I got rejected a lot.” A lively Q&A session followed the discussion. Audience members asked about applying for fellowships and jobs; assembling writing samples; and the relationship between new and old media. Reassuring students debating the qualifications required for job applications, Goodman advised, “people just want to hire really good people. Just be really good at your job.”

April 14, 2015: Blake Bailey



Blake Bailey is the author of biographies of John Cheever, Richard Yates, and Charles Jackson, and he is at work on the authorized biography of Philip Roth. In 2014 he published a memoir, The Splendid Things We Planned. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the winner of a National Book Critics Circle Award and the Francis Parkman Prize, and a finalist for the Pulitzer and James Tait Black Memorial Prizes. He live in Virginia with his wife and daughter.

April 8, 2015: Tish Hamilton



Tish Hamilton started her career in journalism answering phones for the publishers of Muppet and Barbie magazines. She then worked for nearly a decade at Rolling Stone, as a copy-editor, line editor, and managing editor, and ran her first marathon. She spent a few years at Outside magazine, the New York Daily News, and Sports Illustrated for Women and ran many more marathons. Today she feels lucky to combine her professional experience with her personal passion at Runner's World, where she has been executive editor since 2003. Her essays have been included in Woman's Best Friend: Dogs and Tales From Another Mother Runner. She lives in Bernardsville, New Jersey, with her 10-year-old daughter and two small dogs. She has run 48 marathons and the misleadingly named Comrades Marathon in South Africa, which is actually 56 miles.

April 6, 2015: Michael Vitez


Michael Vitez is a human interest writer at the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he has been a reporter for 30 years. Vitez has covered a wide variety of assignments, including presidential campaigns, health reform, the World Series, slaughter and elections in Haiti, and even the quest to grow the first 1,000-pound pumpkin. In recent years, he has concentrated on medical narratives. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism in 1997 for a series of stories titled "Final Choices," for which he followed five people as they approached the ends of their lives, and wrote powerful, intimate narratives about the decisions they made and the choices they faced. Vitez has also written two books. Rocky Stories: Tales of Love, Hope and Happiness at America’s Most Famous Steps (with photographer Tom Gralish) is a collection of interviews and photographs of people from all over the nation and the world who came to run those steps like Sylvester Stallone in the Academy Award winning film, Rocky. The Road Back chronicles the story of Matt Miller, a 20-year-old University of Virginia student athlete who survived a horrific bike accident.

March 16, 2015: Barbara Laker and Wendy Ruderman



A native of Kent, England, Barbara Laker came to the United States with her family when she was 12. In high school, as Watergate broke, Barbara knew she wanted to be a reporter. She graduated from the University of Missouri Journalism School in 1979. A reporter for more than 30 years, Barbara has worked for the Clearwater Sun, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Dallas Times-Herald and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, before joining the Philadelphia Daily News in 1993. She has written about everything from murder and corruption to AIDS and child abuse. At the Daily News, she has been a general assignment reporter, assistant city editor and investigative reporter. With Daily News colleague Wendy Ruderman, she won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for investigative journalism for their series, "Tainted Justice," about a rogue narcotics squad in the Philadelphia Police Department.

Wendy Ruderman got her start in journalism in 1991 when she became editor of a weekly newspaper in South Jersey. She earned a master’s degree from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 1997. Before joining the Philadelphia Daily News in 2007, she worked as a reporter at several media organizations, including the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Trenton Times, the Associated Press, and the Bergen Record. She covered New Jersey government and politics from 1998 through 2002, reporting on the administrations of former governors Christine T. Whitman and James E. McGreevey. From June 2012—June 2013, she was the New York Times' Police Bureau chief. She returned to the Philadelphia Daily News in August 2013 and is now assigned to the newspaper's City Hall Bureau.

February 19, 2015: Signe Wilkinson



Signe Wilkinson is an editorial cartoonist best known for her work at the Philadelphia Daily News. Wilkinson is the first female cartoonist to win the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning (1992) and was once named "the Pennsylvania state vegetable substitute" by the former speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. She served as president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists from 1994-1995. In 2005 she published a collection of her work entitled One Nation, Under Surveillance. In 2007, Wilkinson began a syndicated daily comic strip, Family Tree, for United Media. She decided to end the strip in August 2011, with the last strip appearing on August 27. In 2011, Wilkinson received a Visionary Woman Award from Moore College of Art & Design.

February 4, 2015: Emily Nussbaum



The TV critic for The New Yorker and creator of the New York Magazine approval matrix, Emily Nussbaum engaged in a conversation with Julia Schwartz (C'15) for a packed audience in the Arts Cafe. The discussion included informed commentary about television as an art form, the relationship between social change and the media, and of course, Nussbaum's favorite TV shows. Nussbaum read a blog post that she wrote for The New Yorker about an emotionally resonant episode of HBO's Girls before answering an array of questions from the audience. After the program, Nussbaum joined fans of her work and people of the Writers House in the dining room, where she talked animatedly about Breaking Bad over cheese and crackers.

November 10, 2014: Marty Moss-Coane

Only minutes into her conversation with Dick Polman, Marty Moss-Coane regaled the audience with a litany of her former job titles: waitress. Furniture salesperson. Counselor. Plant salesperson. Owner of a vegetarian macrobiotic restaurant. Crisis intervention specialist. Radio intern. Radio producer. Radio host. Her “crooked path,” as she described it, eventually brought her to the WHYY talk show Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane, which she’s hosted since 1987. A seasoned interviewer, Moss-Coane found her typical roles reversed at this lunch conversation, the last fall guest in Polman’s lunch series: she’d hosted Polman as a radio guest just the week before. Now, she was interviewee instead of interviewer. The topic of conversation was, of course, interviews. After narrating the trajectory of her radio career, Moss-Coane shared a wealth of interview advice. She emphasized the importance of preparation, a point she drove home with a painful story about her first radio show. She peppered her talk with comical anecdotes about former guests—from the notoriously stealthy food critic Craig Laban, who shielded his identity by wearing a box over his head, to Maurice Sendak, who read Where the Wild Things Are aloud on air, complete with animal noises. Moss-Coane left the audience with encouraging words on interviewing, radio, and journalism, assuring them, “asking questions can be a really powerful thing to do”

October 20, 2014: Covering the Pennsylvania Governor's Race

Many observers say that the race between Gov. Tom Corbett and Democrat Tom Wolf has been a snore, but what’s it like to cover it from the inside—and to compete 24/7 with all the new media outlets and technologies?

October 15, 2014: John Harris

September 23, 2014: Careers in Journalism

For students interested in pursuing careers in media, our annual "Careers In Journalism and New Media" is co-sponsored by The Daily Pennsylvanian, The Nora Magid Mentorship Prize, and The Povich Journalism Program, and features successful alumni writers with advice about preparing for jobs in journalism, nonfiction, radio, and online media. This year’s panel was moderated by award-winning journalist and teacher Stephen Fried (C’79), who led a fantastic discussion with group of alumni writers, including Sabrina Rubin Erdely (C'94), an award-winning feature writer and contributing editor at Rolling Stone; Maria Popova (C07), curator of the culture blog BrainPickings.org; and Melody Joy Kramer (C'06), digital strategist and associate editor at NPR. The panel discussed their diverse paths towards careers in nonfiction writing and shared common tips like building a diverse portfolio of samples and getting experience both in and out of the classroom. The panelists spent a lot of time grappling with how social media has shaped the current climate of journalistic writing and got into an impassioned debate over the viability of careers starting in "big" or "small" journalism gigs. The panelists also answered questions from students in the audience including how to break into media without being a writer, the role of collaboration in longform writing, and challenging yourself as a writer beyond the classroom.

Featuring panelists: Melody Joy Kramer (C'06), digital strategist and associate editor at NPR; and moderator Stephen Fried (C'79), award-winning investigative journalist, essayist, and teacher.

September 22, 2014: Matt Flegenheimer

A star-studded alumni panel of journalists and media experts reveals what you need to know to get a job in print or broadcast journalism, book publishing, new media, and beyond. Panelists include Sabrina Rubin Erdely (C'94) an award-winning feature writer, investigative journalist, and contributing editor at Rolling Stone; Maria Popova (C07), an interestingness hunter-gatherer and curator of the culture blog BrainPickings.org;

April 23, 2014: Lunch with JEZEBEL founder Anna Holmes: An Interactive Webcast

Anna Holmes is the founder of the popular website Jezebel.com. She has written and edited for numerous publications, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, InStyle and The New Yorker online. In 2012, she won a Syracuse University Newhouse School Mirror Award for Best Commentary, Traditional Media. She speaks regularly on digital media, gender politics, and pop culture, and has appeared on various media outlets including The Today Show, CNN's Reliable Sources, and NPR's All Things Considered, The Takeaway, and Tell Me More. She is the editor of two books, including the Book of Jezebel, and was recently named a columnist for the New York Times Book Review. She lives in New York.

April 9, 2014: SASHA ISSENBERG

Sasha Issenberg is the author of The Victory Lab, a columnist for Slate and the Washington correspondent for Monocle, where he covers politics, business, diplomacy, and culture. He covered the 2008 election as a national political reporter in the Washington bureau of The Boston Globe, and his work has also appeared in New York, The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Monthly, Inc., The Atlantic, Boston, Philadelphia, and George, where he served as a contributing editor. His first book, The Sushi Economy: Globalization and the Making of a Modern Delicacy, was published by Gotham in 2007.

March 26, 2014: DANIEL JONES: LOVE ILLUMINATED

Daniel Jones is a contributing editor at The New York Times, where he has edited the popular "Modern Love" column since its inception in 2004. His books include two essay anthologies, and The Bastard on the Couch: 27 Men Try Really Hard to Explain Their Feelings About Love, Loss, Fatherhood, and Freedom. His novel, After Lucy, was a finalist for the Barnes and Noble Discover Award. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Elle, Parade, Real Simple, Redbook, and elsewhere. He lives in Northampton, MA, with his wife, writer Cathi Hanauer, and their two children.

March 19, 2014: A CONVERSATION WITH TOM JUNOD

Journalist Tom Junod has published some of the most celebrated pieces in American magazine writing, including, "The Abortionist," "The Rapist Says He's Sorry," "The Falling Man," and a 2001 piece on R.E.M. lead singer Michael Stipe, in which he satirically fabricated information. Junod has worked as a writer for Esquire magazine since 1997, after following editor David Granger to the magazine from GQ. He also worked for Atlanta magazine, Life, and Sports Illustrated.

March 17, 2014: LUNCH WITH LISA DEPAULO

As a magazine writer for GQ, New York, and Vanity Fair, Lisa DePaulo has profiled everyone from Ed Rendell and Jamie Foxx to Liz Smith and Donald Rumsfeld. Before going national, she spent nearly a decade at Philadelphia Magazine, and returned to its pages last September with an epic story about Julia Law, the young paralegal who was found dead in the home of her boss and lover, Philadelphia defense attorney Chuck Peruto. The piece was turned into an e-book, titled The Dead Girl in the Bathtub. DePaulo has taught profile writing at NYU, and she's a University of Pennsylvania graduate, Class of '82.

February 5, 2014: Feminism/s Presents: Sex in Journalism

Join us for a discussion of sex in journalism, featuring a panel of journalists, current and former sex columnists, and scholars: Lena Chen, Julia Allison and Kelsey McKinney.

Julia Allison, 32, is a nationally recognized journalist, relationship expert, public speaker, former BRAVO star and 2008 WIRED cover girl. She is currently at work writing her first book, Experiments in Happiness, to published Spring 2015 by St. Martin's Press. A veteran tv commentator and host, Allison has made hundreds of appearances on CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox, E!, MSNBC, VH1 and MTV, and has published several hundred articles for publications as diverse as ELLE, Newsweek, the Chicago Tribune, Cosmopolitan, New York magazine and The New York Post, covering everything from Burning Man to Comic Con to NY Fashion Week to the White House Correspondents' Dinner, as well as interviewing unconventional experts in the realm of happiness and relationships, and examining the impact of technology and social media on culture. She has spoken at conferences around the world as well as universities like MIT, Wharton, Harvard on new media, personal branding, unconventional purpose driven marketing, and hacking happiness. Allison got her start as the (sometimes controversial) dating columnist for Georgetown University when she was an undergraduate. A recovering social media addict with over 300k combined Facebook and Twitter followers, she's lived in New York, LA, DC and Chicago. Now she lives, loves, and experiments with happiness (and a lot of yoga) in San Francisco.

Lena Chen (@lenachen) is a writer and activist working to advance intersectional feminism, reproductive justice, and sexual and bodily empowerment. Lena studied sociology at Harvard University, where she organized the Rethinking Virginity Conference and co-founded Feminist Pride Day. Since graduating in 2010, Lena has hosted educational programming for Alloy Digital, mtvU, and The National Campaign To Prevent Teen & Unplanned Pregnancy and has spoken about gender justice and youth activism at colleges throughout the country. She has been a member of Bitch Magazine's Leadership Council, recognized as a young feminist leader by More Magazine, and named a Progressive Women's Voices Fellow at the Women's Media Center.

In 2006, Lena started the blog SexAndTheIvy.com, posting firsthand accounts of her experiences with sex and depression, and getting pegged by The New York Times and Newsweek as "a small Asian woman" and "a self-appointed poster girl for brainy girls gone wild" (respectively). After an ex-partner emailed websites like Gawker and IvyGate with "revenge porn", Lena stopped writing publicly about her personal life. Anonymous posters subsequently published the names and personal details of her new partner, friends, family, and readers across dozens of "satire" blogs and message boards in a five-year defamation campaign capturing the interest of media and law enforcement.

In 2013, Lena relocated to Berlin, Germany to write a novel. She is becoming certified as a Registered Yoga Teacher and traveling through the U.S. to document the experiences of homeless youth and survivors of sexual violence and trauma. Her writing has appeared in The Boston Globe, The American Prospect, Marie Claire, Glamour, and Salon.

Kelsey McKinney is a Plan II student at The University of Texas at Austin, and the online editor of Foxing Quarterly. Her writings have been published in Slate, The Atlantic, The Daily Beast, and The Millions. She likes big sandwiches and slim novels. While lifestyle editor at The Daily Texan, she implemented and edited a four-person sex column series that received national attention.

Dan Reimold, Ph.D., is a college media scholar who has written and presented about the student press throughout the U.S., Southeast Asia and in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. As the Student Press Law Center Report notes, "Reimold's work allows him to track the pulse of America's college papers and identify student press trends." He is an assistant professor of journalism at Saint Joseph's University, where he also advises The Hawk student newspaper. His first book on college media, Sex and the University: Celebrity, Controversy, and a Student Journalism Revolution, was published in fall 2010 by Rutgers University Press.

An excerpt from this program was featured in the 39th Kelly Writers House Podcast.

February 3, 2014: A lunch Talk with Bob Ford

Bob Ford is an award-winning sports columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in commentary, Ford joined the Inquirer in 1987 as the beat writer for the 76ers. He became a general assignment feature writer, with an emphasis on Olympic sports and long-form narrative, in 1994, and was promoted to columnist in 2003. His work has been recognized by the Society of Professional Journalists, the Associated Press, the Keystone Press Association and the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association, which has named him Pennsylvania Sportswriter of the Year five times. He is a fellow of the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He's a graduate of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland.

November 13, 2013: a lunch talk with Matt Katz

Matt Katz has been on the Chris Christie beat longer than any reporter in New Jersey. For three years, he covered Gov. Christie for The Philadelphia Inquirer, blogging about it all at The Christie Chronicles, philly.com/ChristieChronicles. This November he takes his beat to NPR, where he'll be covering Christie on the air for WNYC's New Jersey Public Radio and blogging at NJSpotlight.com. Prior to moving to the Statehouse, he spent time in Afghanistan, writing a series on reconstruction efforts that won the Livingston Award for International Reporting. In 2009 his four-part investigation about Camden, the poorest and most dangerous city in America, prompted an end to the state's takeover of city government. He has covered New Jersey for newspapers since 2000.

October 30, 2013: Lunch with Robert Costa

September 26, 2013: Fineman and Fineman: Media Then & Now

Howard Fineman is an American journalist who is editorial director of the AOL Huffington Post Media Group. Prior to his move to Huffington Post in October 2010, he was Newsweek’s Chief Political Correspondent, Senior Editor and Deputy Washington Bureau Chief. An award-winning writer, Fineman also is an NBC News analyst, contributing reports to the network and its cable affiliate MSNBC. He appears frequently on “Hardball with Chris Matthews,” “The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell” and “The Rachel Maddow Show.” The author of scores of Newsweek cover stories, Fineman’s work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The New Republic. His “Living Politics” column was posted weekly on Newsweek.com. Fineman authored his first book in 2008, The Thirteen American Arguments: Enduring Debates That Define and Inspire Our Country.

Meredith C. Fineman is the Founder and CEO of FinePoint Digital PR, a boutique tech, social media, public relations, and media relations agency. FinePoint specializes in national press and events for start-ups and tech, as well as social media strategy and implementation, blogger programs and strategic content. Meredith is also a connector and adviser to many sectors of Washington ranging from entrepreneurship to media to small business. She has a background in advertising and marketing for companies and brands such as Bloomingdale's, CBS, Young & Rubicam, and Nestle. Additionally, Meredith is a freelance writer in humor, technology, entrepreneurship, and business for outlets such as The Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, The Huffington Post, The Daily Muse, Gawker, and HelloGiggles. She is the founder and editor of two female-centric humor sites, TheFFJD, a satire of young Jewish dating life, and Girls Aren't Funny, a space to highlight female humor writers past and present. Meredith received a BA in Communications and Spanish from the University of Pennsylvania.


September 17, 2013: CAREERS IN JOURNALISM AND NEW MEDIA

Joel Siegel began his journalism career at the Red Bank Daily Register, covering cops, courts and Bruce Springsteen sightings. He wrote his first story on an electric typewriter. He then saw the world as a reporter and editor for The Associated Press, in Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Trenton, where he was the Statehouse bureau chief. Next stop: The New York Daily News, where he worked for 15 years, mostly as the City Hall bureau chief and as the senior political correspondent. He covered President Clinton's impeachment, the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and Hillary Clinton's 2000 Senate campaign. In 2003, he joined ABC News as a writer for Peter Jennings, and later for Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer, on ABC's "World News." He also worked as a head writer and a producer for "Weekend World News." Joel returned to the Daily News last year as the managing editor for politics, overseeing the City Hall, Albany and Washington bureaus, and all campaign coverage.

Stephen Fried ('79) is an award-winning author and magazine journalist, a lecturer at Penn's Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing and an adjunct professor at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. A former contributing editor at Vanity Fair, GQ and Glamour, and the former editor-in-chief of Philadelphia magazine, he has written five nonfiction books--most recently "Appetite for America," one of the Wall Street Journal's top ten books of the year--and is currently working on a biography of Dr. Benjamin Rush for Crown.

Maria Popova is the founder and editor of Brain Pickings (brainpickings.org), an inventory of cross-disciplinary interestingness covering art, science, history, philosophy, design, and more. She has written for Wired, UK, The Atlantic, Nieman Journalism Lab, The New York Times, Smithsonian Magazine, and Design Observer, among others, and is an MIT Futures of Entertainment Fellow. She is on Twitter as @brainpicker.

Melody Kramer graduated from Penn in 2006 with a B.A. in English (Creative Writing.) While at Penn, she wrote the humor column for the Daily Pennsylvanian, edited The Punchbowl, tutored folks at the Kelly Writer's House and played trumpet in the Penn Band. After graduating, she received the Kroc Fellowship at NPR, where she learned radio reporting, editing, producing and web stuff. She then moved to Chicago to direct and produce Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, NPR's humor show. Three years later, she moved back to Philly to work as a producer and writer at WHYY's Fresh Air with Terry Gross. She left Fresh Air to go to med school, dropped out in April, took a temp gig writing for and editing National Geographic magazine. She will soon announce a new job! Her email is melodykramer@gmail.com — and she's happy to offer advice or support for anyone thinking about this kind of career. Don't hesitate to get in touch.

April 10, 2013: A lunch talk with David Lieberman

David Lieberman is the Executive Editor for Deadline Hollywood where he reports on several issues including business and finance, television news, media, public policy and technology. Prior to joining Deadline, David was Senior Media Reporter at USA Today for seventeen years and covered media, telecom and technology. He also managed the USA Today's CEO Forum, where he conducted one-on-one interviews with some of the nation's most influential business leaders including Microsoft's Steve Ballmer, General Electric's Jeffrey Immelt, American Express' Kenneth Chenault and Kraft's Irene Rosenfeld. Before working at USA Today, David covered television as a Reporter and Editor for TV Guide, served as Media and Entertainment Editor at Business Week and covered business and the economy for The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. During his career, David free-lanced for several prestigious publications including the Media Studies Journal, The New York Times, the Columbia Journalism Review and The New Republic. He also contributed an essay on media mergers which appears in the influential book, Conglomerates and the Media, published by The New Press. In addition to his writing, David is an adjunct professor at the Fordham University Graduate School of Business where he specializes in business and media.

February 18, 2013: A Lunch Talk with Mark Bowden

Baltimore-area native Mark Bowden mused on the influence of the new journalists of the 1960s on his writing in this lively lunch conversation. A likeable and compelling speaker, Bowden described his discovery of long-form journalism in the magazines next to the pharmacy’s comic-book racks as a kid, noting that in contrast to the “abstract code” of the Baltimore Sun’s reportage, they were just as “full of character, and incident, and action” as the comic books. When he first abandoned his grocery-store cashier job to be a newspaper writer, however, Bowden struggled to find opportunities for writing in the style of his heroes (who included Tom Wolfe and Truman Capote); it was only after a colorful narrative piece about a local drug raid that he realized that even the most hardened “nuts and bolts” editors loved a good story. As he revealed in the question-and-answer session, Bowden eventually broke into the long-form journalism scene in full force, writing about the killings of Pablo Escobar and Osama bin Laden, the 1958 NFL championship game, and more. Bowden captivated the audience with his thoughts on the Internet age, the supposed “golden age” of long-form journalism, and literature as a representation of human experience, and entertained with anecdotes about winning the National Science Writing Award through journalistic ignorance and “a really cool story that I’m not going to tell you about” in Texas.

February 13, 2013: A Lunch Talk by George Anastasia

With an accent like the Philadelphia mobsters through which he earned his journalistic reputation, George Anastasia, former crime reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer, had an immediate presence when he took the podium in this Povich lunch program. Dressed in all black, Anastasia didn’t hesitate to tread touchy territory as he lamented the Inquirer’s apparent loss of respect for content and criticized the practice of hiring recent graduates of journalism schools. His straightforward manner, though met with skepticism from some audience members, seemed nevertheless well intentioned as Anastasia outlined which strategies from the old days could rescue modern reportage. The journalist emphasized “zig[ging] when everyone else zags,” as well as the need for editors to provide ample “digging around” time for their writers. Anastasia convinced listeners of the validity of this philosophy through an animated account of his coverage of the disappearance and murder of Anne Marie Fahey, a crime whose conclusion, he noted, would be rejected by any editor of fiction. The writer also fielded counterarguments from audience members in a Q&A, particularly regarding his feelings towards underqualified twenty-two-year-old bloggers, and offered his thoughts on gangster movies, majoring in French, and pontificating in one’s underwear.

November 27, 2012: A Lunch Talk With Jina Moore

Jina Moore is a freelance journalist and multimedia producer who covers human rights, Africa, and foreign affairs. She is a regular correspondent of the Christian Science Monitor and her work has also appeared in Foreign Policy, Newsweek, The Columbia Journalism Review, and elsewhere.

November 13, 2012: A Lunch Talk With Sam Stein

Stephen Fried recognized the error of his ways as he introduced political reporter Sam Stein for this afternoon Povich program; Fried and other Columbia J-School professors had discouraged Stein from accepting a position at the fledgling Huffington Post upon graduation, skeptical of the publication’s future importance. Years later, both journalists could agree that online journalism is just as relevant as “brick and mortar media” in an era of instantaneous news nuggets, an era, they joked, in which it is dangerous to sleep for all of the missed reportage sleeping entails. Perhaps Fried’s favorite perk of Stein’s HuffPo rebellion was the young writer’s ability to impersonate Arianna Huffington in his lively storytelling, a talent solicited throughout the discussion. Stein stayed good-natured throughout despite difficult questions on factuality in the media, the stories the Obama administration preferred not to divulge, and the “weird new kid on the block” mentality surrounding online journalism (not to mention a particularly vocal front-row audience member), and delighted with his recollections of his first White House press conference, appearing on television the night before Thanksgiving, and the ’08 and ’12 elections on which he built his reputation. Indeed, Stein’s insight on both the trivial and tremendous sides of journalism compelled many audience members to approach with questions well after the program concluded.

November 13, 2012: A Reading By John Jeremiah Sullivan

Jay Kirk put his finger on John Jeremiah Sullivan’s genius in his hyper-eloquent introduction to this event; the essayist, he said, “probes down into the twisted apple core of the American psyche,” surprising his readers all the while with “bursts of technicolor hilarity.” Sullivan took the podium with slow, stuttery charm to read from his collection Pulphead on another genius: Michael Jackson. Sullivan’s remarkably thorough chronicle of the then-recently deceased pop star’s life never faulted audience attention as the author revealed, with dripping enunciation, those aspects of Jackson’s life — early prayers to Jehovah and dancing in the dark in the studio, the nickname “Smelly” (in accordance with his nervous habit of covering his nose self-consciously), the skeletal pre-lyrics of “Billy Jean” – that are overlooked in most reportage surrounding the singer. Sullivan’s immersion in this “unusually pure journalistic experience” was evidenced by his musical digressions as he imitated the “girlish peal,” the “drag voice,” that Jackson developed to survive in the music industry. The effect, however was far from condescending, and the essay leaned towards defense of the deceased — Sullivan suggested that Jackson’s alleged predatory behavior may never have existed, and in the face of much critical reception of Jackson’s surgical alterations, Sullivan asserted, “[Jackson’s] physical body is arguably… the single greatest piece of postmodern American sculpture.” Perhaps the only thing more intriguing than Michael Jackson was his captivating profiler, as evidenced by a fruitful question and answer session following the reading.

November 11, 2012: A Lunch Talk with Amanda Bennett

Amanda Bennett shared her expertise on merging the personal and political in this lunch talk, centered on her recent memoir, The Cost of Hope. Her reflections on the seven-year cancer struggle, and eventual death, of her husband Terrence were rimmed with fond memories — a Tuba choir at Christmas, the faux resume that landed him a job at The Wall Street Journal, his concern over finding a new husband for her when his illness became terminal — as well as startling reflections on the healthcare system. Bennett found, as she pored over Terry’s medical records, that he’d had a total of seventy-six scans over the years, each with seemingly arbitrary pricing, and questioned the medical necessity of much of the treatment advocated by US medical institutions. During the question-and-answer session, Bennett continued to reveal insider information about the healthcare bureaucracy, garnered from her intense investigative work (“HIPPA,” she taught the audience, is a magic word when requesting medical records), but also mused on the memoir-writing process. The author revealed the surprising efficiency of “long hours on the sofa with my arms flung over my eyes” for stimulating memory, discussed the baby-boomer-driven genre of rock star memoirs, and concluded that it was neither cathartic nor painful, but rather “wonderful,” to spend an extra year with her late husband by writing the book.

October 25, 2012: REALARTS@PENN PRESENTS SABRINA RUBIN ERDELY

Former 34th Street staff member Sabrina Erdely returned to Penn for this engaging discussion moderated by RealArts guru Anthony DeCurtis. Erdely treated listeners to her journalistic origin story, describing her escalating addiction to “the hunt” of investigative journalism as an undergrad thrilled to discover a real-life application for her curiosity. In fact, her first feature for Philadelphia Magazine, a piece exploring the sadomasochistic affair between a Penn graduate professor and an undergraduate student (a bigger story than either Erdely or her editors anticipated), was completed before she graduated. Guided by DeCurtis’s thoughtful questions, Erdely shared her shrewd techniques, sincerity about the field, and strategies for dealing with uncomfortable writer-subject relations, including her 34th Street-era discovery that her writing was not confined to the DP’s familiar “airless windowless building at 3 AM.” Incredible anecdotes punctuated Erdely’s eloquent musings about the profession, creating a seamless transition to a Q&A in which the journalist expressed her profound belief in the human race.

October 3, 2012: A Lunch Talk with David Corn

David Corn made a compelling argument for the sovereignty of fact in this mid-campaign program. As the journalist who broke the infamous Mitt Romney “47%” video, Corn had firsthand evidence to support his theory that the best journalism comes from letting facts speak for themselves. After discussing the rise of fact-checking and politicians’ historic disregard for truth-telling on the campaign trail, the journalist jokingly badgered those still voters who were still undecided in the 2012 presidential race, accusing them of not paying attention. The subsequent question-and-answer session heated up quickly as skeptical audience members challenged the ethics of airing Romney’s private strategy session and railed against American journalism; Corn, however, expressed his thoughts in a level-headed manner, a defense strategy that had no doubt become necessity for the journalist in the face of thousands of “mean tweets … from old white guys.” Nevertheless, Corn’s intrepid attitude about reportage not only permitted Corn to divulge his own misgivings about political journalism’s “officialdom” bias, but led one audience member to proclaim “you’re my hero” solemnly into the microphone.

October 1, 2012: SALLY BEDELL SMITH

This Povich program would satiate the appetite of even the most ravenous of gossip hounds; Sally Bedell Smith, after all, is no ordinary biographer. “I have a thing for kings,” she noted, referring to the “legendary characters” to which she’s been drawn over her storied career, which include the Kennedys, Clintons, Pamela Churchill Hamilton, Bill Paley, Princess Diana, and Queen Elizabeth II. Her remarks were a hodge-podge of biographers’ tips — never look at subjects in isolation, take time to organize, be selective, stay tuned for “bonuses” outside of the traditional interview mode — and a whirlwind collection of stories about getting to know her subjects, whether she was watching Bill Paley flirt at a dinner party or the queen observe the “incredibly violent” process of thoroughbred breeding without batting an eye. Smith took questions with the expertise of a practiced navigator of “rivers and their tributaries of research,” dishing on JFK’s highbrow lovers, Pamela Hamilton’s novelistic behavior, “Billary’s” potential political aspirations for the future, and royal matters from Prince Phillip to questions of paternity.

September 19, 2012: CAREERS IN JOURNALISM AND NEW MEDIA

This year’s annual program to honor Nora Magid was a practical affair that any job-seeking journalist would be sorry to miss. Expert panelists Eliot Kaplan, the so-called “guy you need to know” and director of Hearst Magazines director; Ruth Davis, senior editor for Time; Matt Flegenheimer, a recent Penn grad with a full-time post at the Times; Melody Kramer, former NPR writer and producer; and Stephen Fried, journalism professor and experienced editor, discoursed on their first jobs in the biz, how to be a fearless networker, and what undergraduates can do to avoid post-grad employment panic. The Writers House was much praised for its connections, as were the multitude of publications on campus and in Philadelphia that offer opportunities for students to primp their portfolios. The pros also fielded questions on the pros and cons of grad school, new outlets for journalistic expression (read: the Internet and radio), whether it pays more to specialize or diversify, the importance of taking any position you can to expand your writing and reporting skill set, and whether “careers in journalism” really is, as one audience member put it, an oxymoron.

April 4, 2012: A Lunch Talk with Rich Galen

Dick Polman introduced Republican author, columnist, and former press secretary for Newt Gingrich, Rich Galen, to the Writers House. Prior to his visit to Penn, Galen was recently a guest on Real Time with Bill Maher. Polman joked referring to Galen's book, A Stranger in a Strange Land: A Republican in 2012, for the fact that a Republican might feel like a stranger here at Penn. Galen referred to himself as this "stranger" for the fact that he may be the last living moderate Republican, as he describes himself. Jokes and political affiliation aside, Galen was very happy to be here, and noted that this may be the first time he and Polman have been in the same room without three hundred reporters. Galen gave his brutally honest comments on the likelihoods and chance for success of each of the Republican potential candidates for President, including his former boss, Newt Gingrich. Galen also commented on each of the parties' campaign strategies for this November, the benefits and disadvantages of various word limits in writing political columns, and negative ads in politics, among many other thought-provoking topics.

March 28, 2012: A Lunch Talk with Roger Simon

Dick Polman introduced the Chief Political Columnist of politico.com, Roger Simon, for a lunch talk as part of the Povich Journalism Series. Simon has written three books, and is an award winning journalist. Simon talked to our audience about such topics as the relevance of presidential debates, for as he said, people watch a debate to "see how it crashes and burns". He also shared his knowledge concerning how candidates are selected, the religious right of the Republican party, and his predictions of possibilities for the upcoming election. The audience was intrigued by his knowledge and the topics he raised; they asked many questions spanning a wide range of political topics. Our audience was interested in learning about controversial topics such as healthcare as a campaign issue, how the new Voter ID Laws will affect voters, and how Super-PACs will impact the election. Simon provided his honest beliefs and assessments to answer these hot-topic questions. As for his feelings on visiting Penn, Simon noted Philadelphia and Penn's importance in US history, and called it "a pleasure to get out of Washington", which he jokingly referred to as "sixty nine square miles surrounded by reality".

March 13, 2012: A Conversation with Bill Keller

Bill Keller, New York Times columnist and former executive editor, visited the Writers House for a Q&A session hosted by Writers House Faculty Director, Al Filreis. Keller's eminent role in journalism drew Penn President Amy Guttmann as an audience member. Keller discussed his enjoyment for writing Op-Ed columns, how he missed writing when he was an editor, and the discipline of putting one's personal prejudices aside as much as possible when reporting the news. President Guttmann asked him about his biggest worry for journalism, and how it might be overcome. Keller responded that he is a "chronic optimist", so while he acknowledges, as Guttmann does, the loss of quality in the media, he thinks that ultimately people have a desire for receiving quality information over only getting prejudiced reporting. Keller did discuss his frustration with aggregators, in his own words, "if everybody's an aggregator, no one can make stuff to aggregate". Keller's knowledgeable insights into journalism, writing, and the world of the New York Times were a pleasure for our audience.

February 20, 2012: A Lunch Talk with Allison Steele

This lunch talk saw record audience participation even for a Povich program. Long-time crime reporter Allison Steele demonstrated her capacity to listen to all possible sources as she solicited questions from an eager crowd (to the point where she had trouble keeping track of all of the raised hands). Steele began with some earnest insights about her profession, identifying three types of cases: those that require little police work due to the carelessness of their perpetrators (a drunken robbery of a World Series ring replica), those that require serious creative thinking (the double shooting at the Piazza), and those that require sheer luck (the Kensington serial killer). Steele’s appreciation for the sheer (almost military-like) stress of police work as well as the smaller impact that she can make among individuals in the community was humbling. In what became somewhat of a public forum, Steele also addressed the pressure she gets to slant her story, the monumental importance of humanity in writing a case, the benefits of texting sources, Commissioner Ramsey’s attempts to reform the system, the difficulty of finding officers willing to talk about their heroic acts, and the need to ask oneself “does this rise above the normal chaos?” on the crime beat.

December 1, 2011: RealArts@Penn presents Steve Volk

Creative writing teacher and Real Arts Director Anthony DeCurtis introduced Steve Volk to the Writers House as part of the RealArts@Penn program. RealArts@Penn invites interesting and prominent authors to speak, but also provides internships for students in varied arts and media fields. DeCurtis described a twenty six year friendship that he and Volk share. Volk's book, Fringology: How I Tried to Explain Away the Unexplainable and Couldn't explores issues of the paranormal. Volk described how three editors each told him not to write this type of book, as there is a heavy stigma surrounding those who take the paranormal as something worthy of serious exploration. Volk explains how common experiences with ghosts, psychic feelings, and UFOs are, even taking a poll of our audience to see how many have been witness to this type of phenomena, and therefore describes the need to remove the stigma. Volk shared his own past with a haunting in his home, and talked about the fun of the ghost hunting he did as research for this book. As DeCurtis said in his introduction, if there is anyone best suited to explore the paranormal and give everything its due, it is Steve Volk.

November 14, 2011: A Conversation with David Maraniss

Paul Hendrickson, who moderated this conversation, contrasted David Maraniss's "fundamental Midwestern boyishness" and his substantial Pulitzer-level recognition in a lengthy introduction of the esteemed writer. Indeed, Maraniss's cool demeanor and quiet modesty were evident even as he described his extensive reporting in Africa and Indonesia, undertaken for his recent chronicle of the Obama family history, Barack Obama: The Story. Maraniss's honesty is central to his work, whether it apply to deadly battles in Vietnam, 9/11, or Vince Lombardi; throughout the discussion he advocated frank, truthful journalism, a "dangerous" approach to which Maraniss has personally found the most moral and most productive. He attested to the therapeutic nature of writing about the Packers during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, the importance of the subconscious in his writing process, and the continuing thrill of finding the perfect sentence; at Hendrickson's request, he also read a gripping sequence from his 9/11 piece for The Washington Post before an intriguing question-and-answer session.

November 11, 2011: A Lunch Talk with Jill Lawrence

Jill Lawrence joined us this rainy November afternoon to weigh in on the Republican presidential race. At the time, the race was too close to call; like a season of American Idol, Lawrence noted, "every week there's a different winner, but the losers never leave – they just come back." The seasoned campaign reporter appeared bemused, and at times, disbelieving, as she recounted the "farcical" happenings of the race, from Herman Cain forgetting what Libya was to Michelle Bachmann's assertion that the founding fathers fought against slavery. Nevertheless, Lawrence maintained a fairly objective middle ground in her evaluation of today's developing "hyper-partisanship," and fielded loaded questions with the grace she advocates from presidential contenders themselves. Topics included whether or not we should feel sorry for candidates who "flub" on the campaign trail, the revolutionary way Twitter has altered political reporting, the "self-perpetuating" dysfunction within Washington, and whether Sarah Palin would make a surprise appearance at the end of the Republican race.

November 9, 2011: Richard Ben Cramer

Dick Polman introduced journalist and author Richard Ben Cramer for this Povich Journalism program. In Polman's introduction, we not only find out that Cramer's book, What It Takes, is considered by Polman to be "one of the most iconic books ever written", but also that Cramer wanted to entitle this talk "Why I Love Politics". Cramer has conducted enormous research on what it takes to become a president in America; he shared, with our audience, his insights into the families, backgrounds, and personalities of these iconic men, and what kind of a person pursues this highest office in the nation. He also entertained our audience with some funny stories on the nation's most infamous politicians. Cramer answered questions ranging from topics of foreign affairs, the flawed methods of reporting politics, and advice for those who want to become journalists. It is evident from his knowledge and passion that as Cramer says himself, there truly is no irony in his mind when he says he'd like to entitle the talk, "Why I Love Poltics".

October 17, 2011: A Lunch Talk with Karen Heller

Long-time associate of Dick Polman and Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Karen Heller's lunchtime visit to the Writers House evidenced an expert ability to hoard information: over the course of an hour Heller fired off seemingly endless isms and gems of "drive-by verbiage" that could only come from years of dedication to her craft. Heller began with a few "inspirational quotes" that illustrated some of the more trying aspects of modern journalism, a common theme throughout the conversation – tidbits about mean readers, angry government officials, and poor business practices were in no short supply. Nevertheless, Heller was quick to encourage young journalists, asserting that "the queasiest times" are behind us, and detailed the perks of her job, including "getting paid to be nosy" (asking Brian Wilson about his medications) and tackling big issues (literacy and poverty in Philadelphia). During a question and answer session Heller touched upon "empathy overload," her daughter's texting overages, Occupy, CNN's shortcomings, and getting paid, and even addressed a sincerely grumpy audience critic.

October 6, 2011: A Lunch Talk with Mara Hvistendahl

The process of writing her recent book, Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, took Mara Hvistendahl everywhere from China to Albania in a compelling investigation of sex-selective abortion trends. The book, described by Jessica Lowenthal as "gripping like a novel,” is charged with political, cultural, and societal revelations: Hvistendahl discussed the implications of sex selection, such as increased trafficking of women, as well as common misconceptions about the problem in this October event. She noted that sex selection is not simply a poor rural Asian problem, detailing surprising links to development and U.S. population-control technologies from the '60s. Hvistendahl's deliberate reading was peppered with emotive pauses and glances at the audience, members of which provided ample questions in a follow-up session: among other topics, LGBT trends in effected countries, the value of women, and how to go from Paul Hendrickson's class to writing books were addressed.