Cynthia Tucker, the editorial page editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, will receive Colby’s Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award on October 16, President William D. Adams announced. Tucker earned praise from Pulitzer Prize judges “for her forceful, persuasive columns that confronted sacred cows and hot topics with unswerving candor.” She will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree and will speak at 8 p.m. during a formal convocation in Lorimer Chapel.
The Lovejoy Award, established in 1952, is presented annually to honor courageous contributions to the nation’s journalistic achievement and to remember Elijah Lovejoy, a Colby graduate who was America’s first martyr to freedom of the press. The Lovejoy Selection Committee chose Tucker because she has upheld the Lovejoy tradition of integrity and courage, challenging residents of Atlanta and all Americans with principled editorial stands that aren’t always popular. The committee called her “an equal opportunity social critic,” who guides editorial polices on everything from foreign policy to political races and who has not been afraid to confront powerful people and institutions ranging from government officials to the Martin Luther King Jr. family.
“Cynthia is one of the nation’s most skillful editorial writers and commentators,” said retired Boston Globe editor and chair of the Lovejoy Selection Committee Matthew Storin, “but we are particularly honoring the courage and fortitude she has shown in never taking the easy or predictable path — sometimes, I’m sure, at the cost of personal relationships and feeling lots of heat.”
Besides editing the Journal-Constitution’s editorial page, Tucker is a syndicated columnist and a frequent television commentator. As a reporter she covered local governments, national politics, crime and education. She has filed dispatches from Africa, Central America and Cuba as well as from stateside. In 2000 she won the American Society of Newspaper Editors’ Distinguished Writing Award and in 2004 she was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for commentary. Said Storin, “She fits nicely in the grand tradition of our most worthy Lovejoy winners.”
At 4 p.m. on October 16 in the Lovejoy Building’s room 100, a panel discussion, “Protecting Sources and Shielding Journalists,” will be sponsored by Colby’s Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement. The panel and the evening convocation are open to the public at no charge.
The Lovejoy Award is named for Elijah Parish Lovejoy, a native of Albion, Maine, and an 1826 graduate of Colby whom John Quincy Adams called “the first American martyr to the freedom of the press.” He was killed on November 7, 1837, in Alton, Ill., defending his abolitionist newspaper against a pro-slavery mob. Colby established the award for an editor, reporter or publisher who has contributed to the nation’s journalistic achievement. Recent recipients include Bill Kovach, David Halberstam, Ellen Goodman, Studs Terkel, and Daniel Pearl, who received the 2002 award posthumously.
Tucker was selected by a committee of distinguished newspaper editors chaired by Storin, currently an associate vice president at the University of Notre Dame. Committee members include Rebecca Corbett ’74, Washington enterprise editor of The New York Times; Greg Moore, managing editor of The Denver Post; Ann Marie Lipinski, vice president and editor of The Chicago Tribune; Rena Pederson, former editor at large of The Dallas Morning News and currently director of communications at the American College of Education; Colby President William D. Adams; and Professor L. Sandy Maisel, co-director of Colby’s Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement.