WATERVILLE — Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Alec MacGillis, of ProPublica, will receive Colby College’s Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award for courageous journalism on Oct. 2 at the college.

MacGillis is scheduled to deliver the 2017 Lovejoy Convocation address at 7 p.m. at Lorimer Chapel on the Colby campus, where he also will receive an honorary doctoral degree.

Lovejoy was Colby’s valedictorian in 1826, when the college was still known as Waterville College.

He became a crusading abolitionist editor and was murdered in 1837 for his anti-slavery editorials. John Quincy Adams called Lovejoy America’s first martyr to freedom of the press.

The Lovejoy award, presented annually by Colby since 1952, will honor MacGillis for his incisive reporting and informed questioning on a wide range of pressing policy issues. During his tenure at ProPublica, those issues have included the surging opioid crisis, housing policy and the influence of the oil industry and other corporations on public policy.

“The need for a free press and a commitment to truth in reporting has never been more important,” Colby President David A. Greene said. “The same commitment to free inquiry and the search for truth is essential to us at Colby, where Lovejoy’s sacrifice is a regular reminder of the power of ideas and the consequences of trying to suppress them. We are honored to recognize Alec MacGillis for his courageous and unyielding efforts to reveal truths that have been carefully shielded from public scrutiny.”


Past Lovejoy winners include Bob Woodward, James Risen, Bill Kovach, David Broder, Katharine Graham and Carl T. Rowan.

Before covering politics and government for ProPublica, MacGillis spent three years writing for The New Republic and five years as a national reporter for The Washington Post, where he was part of the team whose coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news. He also was a metro reporter for five years at the Baltimore Sun, where he and collaborators were Pulitzer finalists for their coverage of the Beltway sniper.

MacGillis won the 2016 Robin Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Atlantic and New York Times Magazine. He is the author of “The Cynic,” a 2014 biography of Sen. Mitch McConnell, the GOP Majority Leader from Kentucky.

The Lovejoy Award selection committee includes Chairman David Shribman, vice president and executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; New York Times reporter Matt Apuzzo, a 2000 Colby graduate; Mindy Marquez, editor of the Miami Herald; Stephen Engelberg, editor-in-chief of ProPublica; Christine S. Chinlund, managing editor/news, The Boston Globe; Marcela Gaviria, producer, PBS Frontline; Martin Kaiser, editor and senior vice president, retired, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; and Neil Gross, Charles A. Dana Professor of Sociology, Colby College.

Ex-officio members include Greene, Colby’s president; Patrice Franko, director, Goldfarb Center, Colby College; and Eric S. Rosengren, 1979 Colby graduate, P’12 chairman, Colby board of trustees.

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