Underneath the tent in Greenleaf Yard last Friday, Radcliffe alumnae, family, and friends huddled together (in spite of a persistent drizzle) to try to answer a question that has been asked throughout the spring term and at this year’s Commencement exercises: Is there still hope for integrity in journalism? The 2017 Radcliffe Day ceremony honored this year’s Radcliffe Medal recipients, co-anchors Judy Woodruff and the late Gwen Ifill, under whose leadership the PBSNewsHour has been lauded for its honest, thorough reporting in an age when the fundamentals of journalism have been shaken. Ifill’s Radcliffe Medal was accepted by her close friend and fellow journalist, Michele Norris, whose bright yellow jacket echoed Ifill’s own colorful blazer choices on camera. Norris reflected on how much her friend’s work meant to her, sharing how Ifill’s career was one of shattering glass ceilings for women and people of color in the media.
“Democracy Is about Disagreement”
THE CROWD AT RADCLIFFE was receptive, frequently bursting into applause, laughing ruefully at jokes about the state of American politics, and murmuring in agreement at points of reflection about the caliber of Ifill’s reporting. “A vocation is what you are summoned to do in life. A career is a choice. Judy and Gwen have demonstrated commitment to their vocation,” said New York Times columnist David Brooks in his brief remarks opening the day’s program. Following Brooks’s commentary, Ann Marie Lipinski, curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism, took the stage to moderate a panel discussion on “(Un)Truths and Their Consequences,” featuring Conant University Professor Danielle Allen; A’Lelia Bundles ’74, author and former television executive and producer at NBC News and ABC News; E.J. Dionne ’73, columnist for The Washington Post; and Jonah Goldberg, senior editor at the National Review.