The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Devroy Forum features legendary journalist

Facing a crowd of hundreds if not thousands in UW – Eau Claire’s Zorn arena can be a daunting task. For 89-year-old Helen Thomas it was not even a match.

On Thursday, UW – Eau Claire held the 13th annual Ann Devroy Memorial Forum announcing Breann Schossow as the winner of the Devroy Fellowship with Thomas as the featured speaker for the evening.

Thomas started as a White House reporter with United Press International (UPI) under the Kennedy administration until the year 2000. Thomas continues to cover the president as a columnist for the Hearst News Service.

Thomas drew applause from the crowd with anecdotes about her experiences at the White House, but also spoke in a more serious nature.

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In Thomas’s view, presidents should always be questioned.

“All leaders of all countries should be questioned, early and often,” said Thomas. “I think it is a great privilege to question a president and also a great responsibility because we are the last line of defense. We have the right to ask the questions which most people don’t unless they have an open forum or a town hall; which is rare.”

Student and Leader Telegram writer Janie Boschma asked Thomas what she thought of Ann Devroy, who the annual forum commemorates. Devroy is an Eau Claire alumnus who wrote for the Washington Post and passed away in 1997 from cancer.

“I think that she mowed us down,” said Thomas. “We were so jealous because she was such a good reporter and we always had to play catch-up so every time I saw her byline I got scared. She was a great, great reporter, a real digger. I envied her.”

Eau Claire senior Jenny You didn’t know about Devroy before she came to school, but was astonished that someone like her went to school in Eau Claire.

You said that having someone like Devroy going to school here in the past gives her hope. It shows that students like her in Eau Claire could reach the Washington Post.

You thought it was great to have a woman like Helen Thomas here because the media is often male. She feels that Helen Thomas has been a big part of changing how we view the media with her asking tough questions at the White House.

“Ending my senior year with a big hurrah, I couldn’t imagine a better person to have at this forum,” said You. “She is not only one of the most well-known journalists out there, but she is also the most well-known woman journalist who is probably the most experienced out there as well. Just to end with someone with that much experience. It definitely feels like a good closing to my college career at UW-Eau Claire.”

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Devroy Forum features legendary journalist