You might say that Jill Abramson has gone from pioneer to planter.Just over a year ago, Abramson ’76, was at the apex of daily journalism, a veteran investigative reporter at The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times who rose to become The Times’ executive editor in 2011. She was the first woman to hold that lofty title in the paper’s 164-year history.In May 2014, her departure from The Times because of her “management style” became one of the year’s biggest news industry stories and prompted fierce debate about women and power in the male-dominated workplace.Bruised but still loving journalism, Abramson returned to Harvard last fall to teach a creative writing seminar in the English Department at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and perhaps to seed the next generation of press leaders. In her class, students developed the reporting and writing skills necessary to produce compelling nonfiction through close readings of great works from masters such as Gay Talese and important investigative reporting pieces. They also heard some straight talk from industry professionals, and of course, they wrote.“I emphasized to them the importance of learning the basics of how to go out and witness and report accurately and then turn that reporting into a gripping story,” said Abramson. “Those skills are not easy to learn.”Despite the contraction of the news industry that began in the early 2000s with the explosion of Craigslist, which siphoned off as much as $5 billion in lost classified advertising revenue from newspaper publishers, and the migration of paid subscribers to news outlets and aggregators offering free content on the Internet, Abramson said her students remain fascinated by how tough decisions get made in the newsroom and still see a bright future for themselves in the field.“They haven’t been scared off at all. Many of these students are dying to become journalists, and having someone who can guide them about where the best programs are was very valuable to them,” she said.With her enviable connections and experience, Abramson also offered students “very tactical advice” about how to find top-shelf first jobs and internships at print and digital media companies, a move that seems to be paying off as many students are going on to The Times, The Washington Post, and new-media outlets.Abramson will teach the course again in the fall. She’s currently in the early stages of writing a book for Simon & Shuster about the news business’ digital future and developing an online publication dedicated to long-form reporting — “a startup that hasn’t started up yet” — with media entrepreneur Steven Brill.Echoing Abramson’s love for the important but beleaguered craft of journalism, some of her students shared their reasons why they’re drawn to writing as a career and where they’ll be working.JACOB FELDMAN ’15 The Washington PostPhoto by Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer“Journalism offers perks few other industries do, like an ability to contribute and innovate from day one, and connections to a community and the public good. But what ultimately made journalism irresistible for me was the opportunity to be creative and to be chiefly concerned with the truth. I don’t know many classmates who are entering jobs in which they get to create something original on a daily basis and share it with the world, or who get to learn about the facts of our world every day. Until another industry offers those opportunities, I will be a journalist.”GRAM SLATTERY ’15 Reuters“The reason I’m going into journalism is that it is unambiguously my favorite thing to do. Writing, reporting, learning, informing, entertaining — it just gets me out of bed in the morning. In fact, sometimes it keeps me from going to bed at night, as I’m actually writing this note after having pulled an ‘all-nighter’ for Professor Abramson’s class. Like a surprising number of aspiring journalists, I do have a loving grandmother who wants nothing more than for me to work in consulting and finance and sends me emails to that effect frequently. I also have a loving mother who often reminds me that I can quickly switch careers should my journalism career prove unsuccessful. So I’ve heard the arguments against it numerous times, and I bet I could be earning more money elsewhere. But how could I work so hard for a few years and not follow my passion?”ARIA BENDIX ’15 The AtlanticPhoto by Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer“Although I certainly felt the pressure to pursue alternate career paths, I chose journalism for two reasons. First and foremost, I see writing as an essential part of my identity. I feel compelled to honor my passion for this craft in a professional setting, where my words can inspire and affect change. Secondly, I believe that journalism has the singular responsibility of informing the public, and in so doing shaping our national and international dialogue. Professor Abramson’s class has affirmed my belief that journalism is important work, since major events and conversations are nothing without the words to capture them.”JULIET SPIES-GANS ’15 Huffington PostPhoto by Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer“I’ve always viewed writing as a jigsaw puzzle of sorts. It’s as if, when I’m writing, I hear a mental click when I’ve found the right sequence of words, with the goal that each adjective and punctuation mark adds a piece to the steadily forming picture. On the first day of our seminar, Professor Abramson lectured on what she viewed as the common characteristics of literature and journalism. She handed out copies of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story “Winter Dreams,” and we had an hour-long discussion in which we related Fitzgerald’s famous lyrical prose to the craft of “profile” reporting. How Fitzgerald framed his characters — the sharp observations, the subtle nuances of his description — and how he framed his narratives on a greater level mirrored the stylistic tendencies and structural choices of some of journalism’s greatest profile writers, including Gay Talese. As both an English concentrator and a journalist, I loved this intersection of novels and newspapers, this synthesis of reading and reporting.”ALEXIS WILKINSON ’15 HBO, “Veep”Photo by Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer“I’m drawn to writing because I have ideas and I want people to engage with them and to enjoy doing so. Storytelling is the best way to get ideas out into the world, whether you tell that story in a persuasive, informational, literary, or comedic way. Journalism in particular teaches you to be investigative, truthful, and concise in your storytelling. It teaches you how to get people to actually care about something. I do comedy writing now because comedy allows you to talk about really tough issues in ways that get people to let their defenses down and just respond on a visceral level. It also requires a lot of those journalistic skills. There’s a reason many young people today get most of their news from shows like ‘The Daily Show’ and ‘Last Week Tonight.’ People just want a good story, one that makes them feel something. Good storytellers will always be in demand.”ALYZA SEBENIUS ’15 The AtlanticPhoto by Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer“Over years of writing, from my high school newspaper to The Crimson and The New York Times, I’ve developed a special passion for long-form journalism. As publications evolve to fit the demands of the digital age, I am drawn to this field because I believe in the importance of uncovering and telling stories. After summers spent in journalism and book publishing, I’ve had up-close exposure to the challenges that writers and publications face as print moves online. There are financial hurdles, and new models of journalism must continue to develop. However, I am also entering the industry at a moment of new possibilities. As an English major with a special interest in statistics, I am excited about the emergence of data journalism, and am eager to take part as the genre grows and continues to define itself. It is not an easy time for the industry. Yet, while the form of journalism changes, its fundamentals cannot. Quality journalism preserves truth and creates our collective record, saying: We were here, and this is what really happened. It tells our stories, shaping the public’s consciousness and conscience. It creates accountability, serving as the glue of democracy. I want to work on the difficult problems associated with journalism today, like establishing new models to ensure that measurements of clicks and eyeballs do not limit the scope or quality of journalism.”
In winning Phi Beta Kappa’s 2016 Ralph Waldo Emerson Award for “The Murder of William of Norwich,” E.M. Rose found recognition by illuminating the real history behind an imaginary event.Rose, currently a visiting scholar in the program in medieval studies, was honored by the society for her “model of thoroughgoing historical scholarship.”“I’m bowled over,” said the former TV journalist, whose book analyzed the earliest known blood libel in medieval England and its impact on future accusations around Europe. “Most people previously writing on the topic wanted to know ‘Did they or didn’t they?’ I came at it asking, ‘Why did people believe such a strange and pernicious accusation? What were the circumstances?’ I thought it had been done to death, but I kept finding such interesting research.”Rose’s gripping tale gets to the heart of a terrible slander — that Jews tortured children in mockery of Christ and the Crucifixion, and used their blood for ritual purposes — and examines how it was invented, embellished, and transmitted. The book transforms deep scholarship into a vivid courtroom drama involving a bankrupt knight, an ambitious bishop, an earnest monk, and an enterprising banker, identifiable people at the heart of medieval urban life.Rose worked as a producer for CNN for 10 years. Over the next 10 she raised four children while turning her doctoral dissertation into “The Murder of William of Norwich.”“This award gives me credibility to speak out for people who take a different path toward being serious historians, and I’m so thrilled that the award recognizes that you don’t all have to have the same professional trajectory,” she said. “It’s a great challenge to write an important book for a large audience and one that is also well-regarded by scholars. In our field, there is growing bifurcation into extremely narrow studies by specialists or popular works that are not always esteemed by academic readers. It is really exciting but demanding to write for both.”In Rose’s book, the death in 1144 of an apprentice leather worker plays out in a riveting narrative, most notably five years later in a courtroom trial after a knight kills a Jewish creditor.“The book hits many of the compelling concerns of the high Middle Ages,” said Rose. “It’s about identity, national politics, state building, and finance. People always thought the blood libel was an eccentric belief that was marginal, but it turns out to be central to many issues in medieval studies.”Rose makes her case by interpreting the rumors surrounding William’s death as the groundwork for subsequent “copycat” cases that reached as far as Paris.“It starts with a bare-bones accusation no one believes and is gradually elaborated with more and more detail, color, and character,” she said.Jeffrey Hamburger, the Kuno Francke Professor of German Art and Culture and former chair of Harvard’s Standing Committee on Medieval Studies, described the Emerson recognition as “marvelous, and more wonderful when it happens to someone who has had such an untraditional career.”“It’s a great story very well told,” he said. “She puts a very new frame on the material, and the quality of the writing matches that of the research.”Rose had her first child two weeks before earning her M.B.A. at Columbia University, and her second while taking general exams at Princeton for her Ph.D. Over the next several years she juggled parenting alongside teaching at Johns Hopkins University, Rutgers University, and City University of New York.Her prize-winning book went to press only after her youngest child went off to college.“Some friends didn’t ask me for years about my work. They thought it would be awkward or embarrassing. I didn’t have writer’s block. I had children. They’re not the same thing,” she said. “I’ve never regretted it. Studying very difficult and gruesome subjects, it was always reassuring to come home and see wonderful kids.”
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A man who investigators described as a victim of violence was found dead at the taxi company where he worked in Bohemia on Tuesday morning, Suffolk County police said.William Donahue was found dead by a co-worker at McCab’s Taxi Company on Johnson Avenue just south of Corporate Drive at 6:42 a.m., police said.Homicide Squad detectives are continuing the investigation.
“For the time being, we have not focused on investigating the location of the source, where it came from, why it was there, who brought it. At the moment the joint team is still focusing on clearing the scene,” Qohhar told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.He added, however, that the team’s initial findings indicated that the radiation did not come from a nuclear reactor leak. The Puspiptek building, which is located about five kilometers away from the Batan Indah complex, houses several small reactors used for experimental purposes. “The source of radiation that we found [in the complex] is Caesium-137, which is frequently used for industrial purposes,” he said. “Caesium-137 is also one of the substances that will contaminate the environment when there is a reactor accident, such as at Chernobyl or Fukushima. But in addition to Caesium-137 there would also be other substances [in a reactor accident]. In this case, the only radiation source is Caesium-137, so the hypothesis that this incident is due to a reactor leak is baseless.”Qohhar added that when radiation exposure rate went above a certain threshold, the effects would be felt by humans, with symptoms such as changes in skin color, dizziness, nausea or even death.“The exposure rate in Batan Indah is far below this threshold,” he said.A resident of Batan Indah complex, who asked to remain anonymous, said that she received a letter from the neighborhood unit (RT) earlier this week informing her about the radiation. She felt everything was under control. “I think there is no need to panic. I believe that the authorities are doing their best to solve the problem. And if they thought it was dangerous, they would have warned us. But so far there is still no warning, so we’re safe,” she said.She said that she passed the volleyball field every day during her morning walk and that besides the yellow barrier tape around the vacant lot, everything looked normal.Heru said that Batan was currently in the process of cleaning up the exposed area and had collected 52 drums of soil and vegetation from the locations.“The results of the cleanup showed that the material causing the radiation had mixed with the soil. The findings are currently being analyzed in the Batan laboratory,” he said.He added that after the cleanup, the radiation levels fell by 30 percent, from 149 microSieverts per hour to 98.9 microSieverts per hour. The normal exposure rate from background radiation is around 0.03 microSieverts per hour.The clean-up process, Heru said, started on Feb. 12 and would continue until early March.He added that the team would soon conduct a radiation test known as “whole-body counting” on residents who lived in the exposed area to measure their bodies’ radioactivity levels.”We will keep doing the cleanup until the area is thoroughly clean and there is no longer any danger to the people and the environment,” Heru said.Topics : The Nuclear Energy Regulatory Agency (Bapeten) first detected the radiation during a routine check meant to ensure that the agency’s mobile radiation detection unit was working properly.“From Jan. 30 to 31, Bapeten conducted a function test with target areas of Pamulang, the Puspiptek [Center for Science and Technology Research] housing complex, the Muncul area, the ITI [Indonesia Institute of Technology] campus, the Batan Indah housing complex and the Serpong train station,” Bapeten spokesperson Indra Gunawan said in a statement on Friday. He said that all of the areas showed normal radiation levels except for a vacant lot next to the volleyball court at Block J of the Batan Indah complex.“A joint Bapeten and Batan team conducted a search to find the source of the high radiation on Feb. 7 to 8 and found several radioactive fragments,” he said, adding that after the fragments were removed, tests showed that the radiation levels in the area had decreased but were still above normal levels. “Based on those results, we concluded that the contamination had spread in the area and decontamination efforts had to be conducted by removing or dredging contaminated soil and removing contaminated trees and other vegetation.” Bapeten spokesperson Abdul Qohhar Teguh said that the agency was not yet able to confirm the source of the radioactive fragments found in the area. The National Nuclear Energy Agency (Batan) has asked residents of the Batan Indah housing complex in South Tangerang, Banten, to remain calm after finding high levels of radiation within the complex.Agency spokesperson Heru Umbara said locals should not panic because the case was being handled by the relevant authorities.”Residents can carry out activities as usual, as long as they do not enter the area that has been marked as contaminated. If managed properly, exposure to this radiation will not endanger the residents,” Heru said in a statement on Saturday.
KRIS UGARRIZA/Herald file photoThe Wisconsin volleyball team will host Northwestern at the Field House Wednesday, when UW will be looking to put a halt to a four-match losing streak in the Big Ten.The Badgers (14-8, Big Ten 4-6) are eager to get back on the court after losing to Indiana and No. 1 Penn State last weekend.“It is all about improved teamwork,” senior captain Audra Jeffers said. “We need to bring it in and say that no matter what happens, we have to come together and we will keep fighting. We are a much better team than what we have shown the last couple matches, and we all know that. It comes down to heart and fight, and that will build up confidence.”While UW’s losing streak stems from several faults, an inconsistent offense remains the team’s biggest problem. The Badgers hit a paltry .146 against the Indiana Hoosiers last Sunday and posted a .133 percentage against the top-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions the previous match.“It all comes down to being aggressive,” Jeffers said. “Unforced errors happen when you are not being aggressive. You can’t go up there and take a tentative swing, because that is when you hit it out of bounds. It all comes down to mindset and being mentally tough.”The Badgers have experienced some success against the Wildcats (7-14, Big Ten 1-9) already this season, beating NU in four sets on the road at the Welsh-Ryan Arena. UW hopes their past success will help them break out of this recent funk.“We kind of know what they bring to the table so we are really excited to play them again,” junior Brittney Dolgner said. “We want another chance to show the Field House and the fans what we are made of. We are coming off a couple losing games, so hopefully we can turn it around.”The Wildcats are led by their middle blockers Chelsy Hyser and Sabel Moffett. Because NU runs an offense that utilizes quick sets to the middle, Moffett and Hyser rank one and two on the team in kills and hitting percentage.“I think we did a nice job on their middles,” Jeffers said. “But I think their outsides did really well against us. We just worked on that a little bit today, and we want to play them better than we did last time. We just need to play a little more crisp.”Head coach Pete Waite substituted liberally against Indiana last match, trying to find players who could produce, but it remains unclear whether the Badgers will try that strategy again.“At this point we have no idea,” Dolgner said. “We had a practice yesterday where we tried a bunch of different lineups, and we don’t really know what to expect. I guess we will have to see at the game.”The Badgers are emphasizing an aggressive approach for all areas of the game. Both the coaching staff and players feel the team’s slipups can be attributed to tentative play.“We just have to go after it,” Dolgner said. “You can’t be tentative about things. You just have to go up there and play with all you’ve got. You can’t think about it; you just have to go do it.”