UW-Eau Claire hosts 2021 Ann Devroy Memorial Forum

Phillip Rucker of The Washington Post shares “Lessons From Reporting in the Age of Trump” for virtual audience

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Photo by Ashlie Fanetti

Phillip Rucker shares about one of the many interactions he had with Trump during his time reporting inside the White House.

Journalism has changed over the past few years, especially in the White House. 

These changes were the focus of the main presentation given at the UW-Eau Claire Communication and Journalism department’s annual Ann Devroy Memorial Forum on Thursday, April 15 via Zoom.

The event was emceed by Jan Larson, the chair of the CJ department.

Kristine Knutson, acting CJ department chair and forum organizer, said there were a lot of things that went into planning the event during this time of COVID-19.

“It was challenging to plan the forum virtually, but the department is just glad to be able to hold one this year even though it will look different,” Knutson said.

Knutson said the 2020 forum was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and while the 2020 fellow’s work experience at The Washington post was moved out, she doesn’t foresee further delays. 

According to the event program, the annual forum is a memorial to the late Ann Devroy, a UW-Eau Claire journalism alumna who worked as a white house correspondent at The Washington Post for 15 years before she passed away in 1997.

The presentation, titled “Lessons from Reporting in the Age of Trump,”  was given by Phillip Rucker, a former White House Bureau Chief for The Washington Post, who spent the last few years of his career covering the Trump Administration.

He has also co-written a bestselling book about Trump’s first three years in office.

Rucker is now senior White House correspondent at The Washington Post but is currently on leave working on the sequel to his book, which Rucker said will cover Trump’s last year in office.

During his presentation, Rucker shared memories from his time covering the Trump presidency, anecdotes of the woman of honor — Ann Devroy — and answered audience questions from the audience as he took the virtual stage.

Those watching the virtual forum even caught a glimpse of Rucker’s puppy named Axel while Rucker spoke about the mantra “We’re not at war, we’re at work.” Rucker said he and his co-workers kept these words in mind when interacting with Trump.

In addition to the remarks by Rucker, a new recipient was announced for the Ann Devroy fellowship. 

The Devroy fellowship awards an outstanding UW-Eau Claire journalism student a scholarship and a three-week fellowship at The Washington Post and eligibility to apply for a paid summer internship at a Wisconsin daily newspaper.

The 2021 Devroy fellow is Ta’Leah Van Sistine, a third-year journalism and English student and editor-in-chief of The Spectator.

The announcement was made by the 2020 fellow, Madeline Fuerstenberg, a fourth-year journalism student.

“Ta’Leah is so deserving of this. She has so much experience and knows what she is doing,” Fuerstenberg said. 

Fuerstenberg said she hasn’t gone to Washington D.C. for her internship yet because of the pandemic but plans to do so in the fall. She is also going to intern at the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism this summer.

“The Washington Post is the ideal place to learn how to be a good journalist,” Fuerstenberg said. “I’m just excited to learn from people who have so much experience in the field.”

Knutson said as of right now, Van Sistine will get the same opportunity as Fuerstenberg over UW-Eau Claire’s 2022 winter break.

The forum is available in its entirety here.  

Fanetti can be reached at [email protected].