Pulitzer Prize-winning New Yorker reporter Katherine Boo will receive Colby College’s 2015 Lovejoy Award, the school has announced.

Boo will be given an honorary doctoral degree and the Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award for courageous journalism on Oct. 5.

Boo “gives voice to the disadvantaged” and has spent more than 20 years in poor communities, writing about how “societies distribute opportunity and how individuals climb out of poverty,” said a Colby news release making the announcement. She has won not only a Pulitzer Prize for her work, but also a MacArthur genius grant and a National Book Award.

Colby College President David A. Greene, a member of the committee that selected Boo for the award, said in the news release the quality of her research, the intensity of her prose “and the critically important theme of inequality that informs much of her work all contributed to her selection.”

“Katherine Boo analyzes the complex interplay of social, political and economic inequalities by exploring the everyday experiences of individuals – the gut-wrenching tragedies as well as the moments of personal triumph,” Greene said. “Her writing combines elements of journalism and ethnography and is crafted through her discerning intelligence and her unusual ability to hear universal stories in the peculiarities of daily interactions. Her work is storytelling at its very best and most illuminating.”

She won the 2000 Pulitzer Award for Public Service as a reporter for The Washington Post for disclosing “wretched neglect and abuse in the city’s group homes for the mentally retarded, which forced officials to acknowledge the conditions and begin reforms,” according to the Pulitzer committee. Her first book, “Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity,” won a National Book Award and was named one of the 10 best books of 2012 by The New York Times.

David Shribman, executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and chairman of the Lovejoy selection committee, characterized the committee’s annual challenge as one of matching the work of a journalist with the enduring legacy of Lovejoy, the release said.

“In choosing Ms. Boo,” he said, “we have a perfect match – a journalist of purpose and courage who has taken on the vital issues of her time much the way Lovejoy took on the issues of his.”

Rebecca Corbett, a 1974 Colby graduate and assistant managing editor of The New York Times, as well as a member of the selection committee, said “Katherine Boo is among journalism’s great practitioners of narrative nonfiction, a writer who has devoted her career to illuminating the lives of the disadvantaged, the powerless, the people left behind.

“Her deep reporting, lyrical writing, and passion for social justice have produced unforgettable, heartbreaking stories about the aspirations, daily struggles, and humanity of ordinary people in terrible circumstances, without advocates or support,” Corbett said. “She gives them a voice.”

The Lovejoy Award, given annually since 1952, recognizes courage and themes of social justice in journalism. It honors the memory of Lovejoy, who was killed in Alton, Ill., for condemning slavery and for defending his right to publish. John Quincy Adams called him America’s first martyr to freedom of the press, the release said.

In addition to Greene, Shribman and Corbett, the committee that chose Boo includes Mike Pride, administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes and former editor of New Hampshire’s Concord Monitor; Stephen Engelberg, editor-in-chief of ProPublica; Christine S. Chinlund, managing editor for news at The Boston Globe; Marcela Gaviria, producer at PBS FRONTLINE; and Martin Kaiser, retired editor and senior vice president of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Daniel M. Shea, director of the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement, also is on the committee.

The Oct. 5 program will include a speech by Boo, who will be presented the award at 7:30 p.m. in Colby’s Lorimer Chapel. The event is free and open to the public. A panel discussion, “Division and Despair: Reporting on Economic Inequality,” will feature national experts and top journalists at 4 p.m. in Ostrove Auditorium, in the Diamond Building.

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