Terry Tang is the deputy editorial page editor of The New York Times, where she has worked since 1997. She spoke on campus March 28.
What does a modern day blogger have in common with Benjamin Franklin?
More than one might think, says Terry Tang, deputy editorial page editor for The New York Times. Much like bloggers and social media users today, Franklin used 18th-century technology – the printing press – to write, edit and publish his own news, which also offered a healthy dose of entertainment value.
"Anyone with a Tumblr, Twitter or YouTube account is practicing journalism in its most authentic form," she said. "The model of the American newspaper is that news flows from the center to the periphery, not just from the elites to the masses."
Tang visited Whitman March 28 to deliver the 2013 Hosokawa Journalism Lecture. In her talk, titled "Poor Richard's iPad: The Return of American Journalism to its Roots," she discussed the evolution of the press since the Founding Fathers and how newspapers are embedded in the American political tradition.
"Journalism is a culture and a kingdom," she said. "It's something money cannot buy."
A 16-year veteran of The New York Times editorial team, Tang started her career as a corporate lawyer before making the transition to journalism. She worked on the general assignment desk at Seattle Weekly and was an editorial writer at The Seattle Times. A graduate of Yale University and New York University School of Law, she was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard from 1992 to 1993. Her son, John Lee '16, is a first-year student at Whitman.
"Meeting Terry and discussing how she first got into journalism was really inspiring," said Shelly Le '14, web content editor for Whitman's student newspaper, The Pioneer. "I've been pretty nervous about breaking into the industry after Whitman, and Terry reassured me about some of those fears. She also talked about The New York Times' transition to web – much of what they've struggled with has been a problem for The Pio as well."
During her visit to Whitman, Tang ate lunch with Pioneer editors and hosted a workshop called "The Craft and Career of Journalism" for students on the Pioneer staff. She emphasized that despite the rising number of bloggers and content aggregators, society still needs salaried, full-time professional journalists to ask tough questions and produce the original content that is shared through social media.
"It's always wonderful to hear that journalism isn't obsolete but exploring different avenues of communication," Le said.
At a celebratory dinner, Tang helped President George Bridges present awards to the winners of the 2013 Hosokawa Journalism Contest. The awards recognize outstanding achievement and journalistic excellence as demonstrated by staff members of The Pioneer.
For the contest, students submitted stories that were published in The Pioneer in the last year, and journalists from around the country judged their entries. Winners received a $500 prize made possible by the Hosokawa endowment.
The winners in all five categories are as follows:
- Opinion/Editorial - Blair Hanley Frank '13
- Photography - Halley McCormick '15
- Feature - Rachel Alexander '13
- Sports - Quin Nelson '16
- News - Tristan Gavin '14 and Shelly Le '14 (tie)
The panel of professional judges included:
- Bob Semple - The New York Times
- Larry Gordon - The Los Angeles Times
- Shannon Dininny - The Associated Press
- Katherine Long - The Seattle Times
- Kate Riley - The Seattle Times
- Katrina Barlow '09 - Seattle Times
- Susan Nielsen '93 - The Oregonian
- Marlo Jo Fisher - Orange County Register
- Paul T. Erickson - Tri-City Herald
- Robin Hamilton - Lifestyles Magazine
- Steve Lenz - Lifestyles Magazine
- Matt Banderas '04 - Walla Walla Union-Bulletin
- Rick Eskil - Walla Walla Union-Bulletin
- Jeff Horner - Walla Walla Union-Bulletin
- Bret Rankin - Walla Walla Union-Bulletin
The Hosokawa Journalism Lectureship was established at Whitman in 2000 by David and Beverly Hosokawa and the Hosokawa Family Foundation. It honors alumnus Robert R. Hosokawa '40, David's father, by bringing a celebrated journalist to campus each year. Robert Hosokawa, a Whitman Alumnus of Merit, was a reporter for several papers in Missouri, New York, Iowa and Minnesota. He held journalism professorships at the University of Missouri and the University of Central Florida and has been a mentor to many young journalists.
"The Hosokawa Awards are a great chance for everyone on The Pio to not only learn and grow from comments made on their article, but to also feel appreciated for their work," Le said. "We put so many hours into our articles, photos and illustrations, and having a night dedicated to journalism at Whitman is a part of what keeps me going."
The 2013 Hosokawa Journalism Award winners, from left, with Terry Tang, center: Rachel Alexander '13, Shelly Le '14, Quin Nelson '16, Tristan Gavin '14, Blair Hanley Frank '13 and Halley McCormick '15.