Ann Devroy Memorial Forum features Phoebe Connelly

Phoebe Connelly of The Washington Post speaks on modern journalism at the Ann Devroy Memorial Forum

Maggie OBrien

More stories from Maggie O'Brien

Across the Pond
February 28, 2024

Photo by Maggie O'Brien

Phoebe Connelly pictured with the 2023 Devroy fellow, Maddie Kasper.

Editor’s Note: Maddie Kasper is the news editor of The Spectator however she had no involvement in the writing of this article.

UW-Eau Claire held the Ann Devroy Memorial Forum on Thursday, April 27. The forum took place in Woodland Theater in Davies Student Center from 7-9 p.m., and was free and open to the public. 

Phoebe Connelly, director of Next Generation Audience Development at The Washington Post, was the featured speaker at the forum. 

The presentation that Connelly gave was titled “Creating Journalism People Need: How The Washington Post is Using the Quest for New Audiences to Deliver Groundbreaking Reporting and Products That Delight.”

According to an Integrated Marketing and Communications article, the forum honors Ann Devroy, who studied journalism at UW-Eau Claire and graduated in 1970. Devroy went on to become a prominent journalist at The Washington Post and a white house correspondent. 

The Ann Devroy Memorial Fund supports both the forum and a student fellowship dedicated to her memory. According to UW-Eau Claire’s website, the fund was started by Devroy’s family and colleagues at The Washington Post after she died of cancer in 1997 at the age of 49.

The forum began with an introduction by Kris Knutson, chair of the Communication and Journalism department. Knutson gave the audience a brief background on the Ann Devroy Memorial Fund and introduced the 2023 Devroy fellow, Maddie Kasper

Kasper, a second-year journalism and political science student and news editor at The Spectator, spoke briefly about her educational intentions and expressed her gratitude for the scholarship and fellowship before Connelly began her presentation. 

Connelly said she is from the Midwest and feels that a real problem in journalism, in general, is the nonexistent pathways for people who aren’t from the East or West Coasts or bigger journalism schools. 

“I was really excited to come to a small journalism program and help share what I have to help you all make those connections to bigger publications,” Connelly said. 

According to Connelly, her hope for the forum involved exciting students about pursuing journalism and provoking thought in the overall community about an institution that is often taken for granted. 

“I thought the forum was fantastic,” Connelly said. “I really appreciated the opportunity to marshall my own thoughts about our industry.”

Knutson said the forum is something that is very important to the CJ department as a whole. 

“It’s such a wonderful opportunity to not only celebrate the greatness of national journalism and help to bring that national prominence to Eau Claire for a talk but also to celebrate the great journalists who are on our campus,” Knutson said. 

Knutson said the forum is one of her favorite events to host because the CJ department gets to honor a CJ student and continue a relationship that allows a student to work at The Washington Post each year. 

Sarah Tweedale, special projects coordinator for the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, said she feels a great responsibility to this event every year as a part of the foundation staff and also intends to keep the memory of a dear friend and former Devroy fellow alive. 

“I found Miss Connelly’s comments refreshing and a holistic representation of the way that news media is moving forward beyond the 21st century and maintaining the integrity of the profession of yesteryear, as well as recognizing and adapting to current and future needs,” Tweedale said. 

To learn more about the Ann Devroy Memorial Fund, donate to the next Devory fellow or see previous Devroy fellows, check out the Ann Devroy Memorial Fund page on UW-Eau Claire’s website. 

O’Brien can be reached at [email protected].