Woodward2_2Investigative reporter and bestselling nonfiction author Bob Woodward, renowned for his role exposing the Watergate scandal, was honored as a “hero of American journalism” and a “determined seeker of truth” at Colby Nov 11. Woodward received the 2012 Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award for courageous journalism and an honorary doctor of laws degree.

President William D. Adams told Woodward in a citation, “Your early work changed both the practice of journalism and the arc of American history.” It also inspired a generation of reporters who flocked to journalism schools in the mid-1970s.

Woodward regaled the audience in a crowded Lorimer Chapel with serious stories about the importance of a vigorous free press leavened with anecdotes, often humorous, about his experience investigating Watergate and writing 17 nonfiction books.

Reflecting on the courage of reporters, Woodward demurred. He credited his publishers, both at the Washington Post and Simon & Schuster, for taking risks by publishing his articles and books despite threats of retaliation from the highest levels of government. He contrasted his experience with that of reporters working in other countries—Russia in particular, where reporters fear death for criticizing rulers.

Woodward quoted a judge who got it right when he said, “Democracies die in darkness.”

He considers reporting the best job in the world. “You get to be curious every day. I mean imagine. You get up, and my first thought in the morning, is, ‘What are the bastards hiding?'” he said. “They’re always hiding something.”

Full audio of Woodward’s speech is online. Audio of a panel discussion, “Stop the Presses: Investigative Reporting in the Information Age” held earlier in the day is also online for streaming or download.

Colby has given the Lovejoy Award to a courageous journalist annually since 1952, honoring the memory of Elijah Parish Lovejoy, Class of 1826, America’s first martyr to freedom of the press. The selection committee that chose Woodward includes Ann Marie Lipinski, curator of the Neiman Foundation; Rebecca Corbett ’74, deputy Washington bureau chief for theNew 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, received the 1973 Lovejoy Award at Colby at the height of the Watergate crisis. Other winners include Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, NPR foreign correspondent; 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.