Alec MacGillis, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter known for his deep reporting on social issues and public policy, was honored with Colby College’s Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award for courageous journalism. MacGillis, who reports for ProPublica, delivered the 2017 Lovejoy Convocation address Oct. 2 in Colby’s Lorimer Chapel and receives an honorary doctoral degree in front of an engaged audience.
Lovejoy, 1826 valedictorian at Colby (at the time, known as Waterville College), became a crusading abolitionist editor and was murdered in 1837 for his anti-slavery editorials. He was called America’s first martyr to freedom of the press by John Quincy Adams.
The Lovejoy award, presented annually by Colby since 1952, honored MacGillis for his incisive reporting and informed questioning on a wide range of pressing policy issues. During his tenure at ProPublica, these have included the surging opioid crisis, housing policy, and the influence of the oil industry and other corporations on public policy.
“The need for a free press and a commitment to truth in reporting has never been more important,” said Colby President David A. Greene. “The same commitment to free inquiry and the search for truth is essential to us at Colby, where Lovejoy’s sacrifice is a regular reminder of the power of ideas and the consequences of trying to suppress them. We are honored to recognize Alec MacGillis for his courageous and unyielding efforts to reveal truths that have been carefully shielded from public scrutiny.”
Before covering politics and government for ProPublica, MacGillis spent three years writing for The New Republic and five years as a national reporter for the Washington Post, where he was part of the team whose coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news. He was also a metro reporter for five years at the Baltimore Sun, where he and collaborators were Pulitzer finalists for their coverage of the Beltway sniper. MacGillis won the 2016 Robin Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting. His work has appeared in the New Yorker, Atlantic, and New York Times Magazine. He is the author of The Cynic, a 2014 biography of Senator Mitch McConnell.