It’s not every day a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist speaks to your class. Over the last two weeks, the students in COMM 381: The Journalism of Social Change have doubled down on the honor.
Two Washington Post journalists who separately won Pulitzer Prizes for their coverage of race in America were recent guests to the class, taught by NBC/MSNBC contributor Howard Fineman.
Robinson traced his path from segregated South Carolina to his close journalistic relationship with Barack Obama. Lowery, son of a New York journalist, talked about covering street protests against police in Ferguson, Mo.
“It was a rare privilege for us to get to see America through their eyes and great reporting,” said Fineman.
Both conversations were off the record, allowing both the guests and the students a chance for candid and open discussion.
“It was really an honor to have Eugene Robinson and Wesley Lowery as guests in my class, says Amaka Okonneh C’19. “From our discussions, I was able to gain greater insight into what it takes to be an excellent as well as a renowned journalist. Hands down, hearing from Eugene Robinson and Wesley Lowery were two of the most fascinating experiences I've had at Penn so far.”
Overall, the class explores how journalism through the centuries has worked to advance social justice issues like racial and gender discrimination, poverty, government corruption and authoritarianism, and the ravages of war. By incorporating weekly talks by practicing journalists, the students explore the continuation of this tradition through both traditional and “new” media.
In addition to Robinson and Lowery, other guests to the class have included Michael Isikoff, Chief Investigative Correspondent for Yahoo! News and Noah Michelson, Editorial Director of HuffPost Personal.