Devroy speaker will address changes in journalism

Washington Post Columnist Al Kamen to speak on campus for 18th annual forum


Photo by Courtney Kueppers

History Professor Jim Oberly and Communication and Journalism Associate Professor Jan Larson gave a presentation Wednesday afternoon chronicling Ann Devroy’s work at The Spectator. The presentation kicked off the events of the 18th Ann Devroy Memorial Forum, which will continue tomorrow with a presentation by Washington Post columnist Al Kamen.

The relationship between journalists, and the executive branch have changed, even in the time since the last president left office, a columnist for The Washington Post said last week.

Al Kamen, who writes the column, “In The Loop” for The Washington Post, will focus on those changes and journalism’s transition from print to digital in a speech Thursday at the Ann Devroy Memorial Forum at UW-Eau Claire.

Devroy graduated from Eau Claire in 1970 and went on to an esteemed career at The Washington Post. She worked as The Post’s chief White House correspondent during the Clinton administration, before her death from cancer in 1997.

Kamen remembers Devroy as a dogged reporter. And because he worked with and respected Devroy, Kamen said he “couldn’t refuse” coming to Eau Claire as a forum speaker.

“I purposely sat next to her,” Kamen said of working with Devroy. “She was a fount of information and was willing to share what she couldn’t use, which was a lot. Devroy was plugged in to so many things, so many people.”


Kamen first went to Washington to work with Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein on their book, “The Final Days.” From there, his journalism career led him west to the Rocky Mountain News in Denver where he covered police and the governor’s office.

When Woodward began work on his Supreme Court book, “The Brethren,” he called Kamen back to Washington to help. He’s been working at The Post since.

During his tenure at The Post, Kamen has covered Washington-area courts, the U.S. Supreme Court, State Department and immigration. Since the early ‘90s, he has written “In the Loop,” which focuses on the executive branch.

Kristina Bornholtz, managing editor of The Spectator, said she appreciates Eau Claire’s efforts to bring in speakers like Kamen.

“It’s special for our department to have this night to celebrate what we do,” Bornholtz said. “This is unique to our campus. Not everyone gets to hear from a national journalist.”

Mike Dorsher, associate professor of communication and journalism at Eau Claire and chair of the Devroy committee, said he hopes students take advantage of the opportunity to hear from and ask questions of Kamen.

“It’s people like Al Kamen who are really the fourth branch to scrutinize the government and hold all three branches accountable,” Dorsher said.

Dorsher said Kamen is among the last full-time Washington Post journalists who worked alongside Devroy.

Kamen is grounded in old-school journalism. “He does it the way Ann Devroy taught him to do it,” Dorsher said.

But Kamen today uses social media to reach sources and promote his work. This balance of 20th and 21st century journalism makes Kamen a great Devroy Forum speaker, Dorsher said.

Steve Fruehauf, a senior journalism major, has been inspired by the last two Devroy Forums he’s attended. Fruehauf said he enjoys hearing from notable speakers and thinks the fellowship provides great possibilities for Eau Claire students.

“The Devroy Fellowship gives a small-town college student an opportunity in a big national market,” Fruehauf said. “It validates what we’re doing here and shows we can have success.”