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Bob Woodward of the Washington Post, an icon in the annals of investigative journalism for his role uncovering the Watergate scandal, will receive Colby College’s 2012 Lovejoy Award for courageous journalism Nov. 11.
Woodward, an investigative journalist and author for four decades, will accept the award and an honorary Colby doctorate at a formal convocation Sunday, Nov. 11, at 5:30 p.m. in Colby’s Lorimer Chapel. The event, which includes a speech by the recipient, is open to the public.
The Lovejoy Award has been given annually since 1952 to recognize courage in journalism. It honors the memory of Elijah Parish Lovejoy, Colby’s valedictorian in 1826 and an abolitionist newspaper publisher who was killed in Alton, Ill., in 1837 for condemning slavery and defending his right to publish. John Quincy Adams called him America’s first martyr to freedom of the press.
Woodward, now associate editor of the Washington Post, was hired at the paper in 1971 as a reporter, and the following year he was assigned to work with Carl Bernstein. Together they did most of the reporting that blew open the Watergate scandal—an web of dirty tricks, illegal surveillance, and cover-ups that made the term and even the suffix “gate” synonymous with political corruption.
The reporting led to numerous government investigations, and eventually four dozen government officials were convicted of crimes and President Richard Nixon was forced to resign. Gene Roberts, the 1989 Lovejoy Award recipient, called Woodward and Bernstein’s work “maybe the single greatest reporting effort of all time.”
Woodward has written or cowritten 17 nonfiction books, beginning with All the President’s Men (1974), which was turned into a 1976 movie starring Robert Redford as Woodward. Twelve of his books have been number-one national bestsellers, and all have been bestsellers.
Woodward’s most recent book, The Price of Politics, examines how the president and congressional leaders have dealt with the economy and the government’s fiscal crisis. It was released Sept. 11 and is number two on the New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller lists.
“Bob Woodward’s unparalleled contributions to American journalism have put him in a rare rank of those honored by the Lovejoy prize,” said Ann Marie Lipinski, chair of the selection committee and curator of the Neiman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. “His work in uncovering Watergate forty years ago is just the best known in a career devoted to investigating some of the nation’s most complex people and institutions. War, the White House, Hollywood, the Supreme Court, and more have been deconstructed by Woodward and better understood for his rare skill and insight.”
Associated events Nov. 11 include a panel discussion “Hold the Presses: Investigative Journalism in the Digital Age” at 4 p.m. in Ostrove Auditorium, Diamond Building. It will be moderated by Steve Engelberg, managing editor of ProPublica and a member of the Lovejoy Award selection committee.
That committee also includes Lipinski; Rebecca Corbett (Colby Class of ’74), deputy Washington bureau chief for the New York Times; Gregory Moore, editor of the Denver Post; Mike Pride, editor emeritus and columnist for the Concord [N.H.] Monitor; David Shribman, vice president and executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; and Professor Dan Shea, director of the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement at Colby.
The late Katharine Graham, publisher of the Washington Post during Watergate, received the 1973 Lovejoy Award at Colby at the height of the Watergate crisis. Other past winners include Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson of NPR; Alfredo Corchado, who reports from the U.S.-Mexico border for the Dallas Morning News; Jerry Mitchell, whose reporting brought Ku Klux Klansmen to justice for civil rights murders; Daniel Pearl (posthumous) of the Wall Street Journal; and David Halberstam.