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Washington Post editors to speak at SPJ National Convention


Robert Leger, SPJ president-elect and convention chair, 417-836-1113,
Al Cross, SPJ president, 502-648-8433,

FORT WORTH -- The authors of an acclaimed book about the condition of American journalism will be among the featured speakers at the national convention of the Society of Professional Journalists in Fort Worth next month.

The speakers will be Leonard Downie Jr., executive editor of The Washington Post; and Robert Kaiser, former managing editor and now associate editor and senior correspondent. They are the authors of The News About The News: American Journalism in Peril, published this year by Alfred A. Knopf.

Downie and Kaiser will discuss their book and the issues it explores in a session for all convention attendees at 4:30 p.m. CDT on Saturday, Sept. 14, at the Renaissance Worthington Hotel in downtown Fort Worth. It is expected to be one of the highlights of the convention, which begins Thursday, Sept. 12. At the concluding banquet on Sept. 14 the pair will be named Fellows of the Society, the top honor that SPJ bestows on journalists.

Using their combined 77 years’ experience at the Post, plus first-hand reporting in print, broadcast and Internet newsrooms, Downie and Kaiser wrote a book exploring the corrosive effects of news outlets’ preoccupation with celebrities, entertainment, sensationalism and profits, while showing how important stories can be skillfully reported, written, edited and presented. Their book recounts a tense debate in their own newsroom about whether to publicize a presidential candidate’s long-ago love affair, and includes surprisingly candid interviews with the three major network news anchors.

“Rarely have such prominent, powerful editors broken with the gentlemen’s club of journalism to take their colleagues to task so candidly,” said David K. Shipler, a former New York Times reporter and Pulitzer Prize winner.

Downie has worked as at the Post since 1964 as an investigative reporter, a foreign correspondent, national editor, and managing editor. He was a principal editor during the newspaper’s Watergate coverage, and succeeded Ben Bradlee as executive editor in 1991. Downie is the author of three other books, including The New Muckrakers. Kaiser joined the Post in 1963 and has been a local, national and foreign correspondent, assistant managing editor for national news and managing editor. His books include Cold Winter, Cold War and Great American Dream.

“We are proud to have such leaders in our field on the convention schedule,” said SPJ President Al Cross, political writer and columnist for The (Louisville) Courier-Journal. “The issues they have explored in their book should be considered by every journalist who cares about the future of our craft.”

“This convention is devoted to exploring the future of our craft,” said SPJ President-elect Robert Leger, editorial page editor for the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader. “It is an uncertain future, but speakers like these can help guide us in the right direction.”

Online registration for the convention is available at

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, the Society of Professional Journalists is the nation’s oldest and broadest journalism group. SPJ is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism, stimulating high standards of ethical behavior, and perpetuating a free press.

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