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

Annual Devroy Forum announces 2024 Devroy Fellow

Patrick Marley talks all things election denialism and swing state politics
Photo by Mady Leick
2024 Devroy Fellow Jhett Sherry, CJ professor Pechulano Ngwe Ali, Washington Post journalist Patrick Marley and 2023 Devroy Fellow Maddie Kasper pose for a picture after the forum (left to right).

The Ann Devroy Memorial Forum is in honor of UW-Eau Claire alumna and former White House correspondent for The Washington Post, Ann Devroy. This year the event was held on Thursday, April 25 in Schofield Auditorium. 

Each year, a journalist at The Post visits Eau Claire to speak at the forum. This year, that journalist was Patrick Marley, who spoke at the event about the work that he does for The Post, as well as the importance of supporting young journalists.

This, though, was not the only thing Marley did throughout the day.

The days worth of events began with a number of journalism students and writers at The Spectator joining Marley for lunch. He asked the students about their goals and ideal career paths in the journalism field and allowed students to ask him questions about his work.

A poster advertising the The Devroy Forum. (Photo used with permission from the UWEC CJ department)

Apart from this, Marley visited a number of classes throughout the day, including Advanced Organizational Communication: Strategic Message Design (CJ 355). He was also shown a number of spaces in Hibbard Hall such as the Communication and Journalism Center (CJC) and The Spectator office.

At the start of the forum Kristine Knutson, communication and journalism department chair, spoke about the importance of upholding the ideals of journalism.

“Journalism at its core is about democracy. It is about telling stories that matter and shining a light in dark places and speaking truth to power,” Knutson said. “It is about holding the powerful accountable and it’s about giving people the information needed to make decisions about their lives and our society.”

After Devroy passed away from cancer in 1997, her family as well as her friends at The Post established a yearly scholarship opportunity for one journalism student at UW-Eau Claire who will intern at The Washington Post over their winter break. This year, the selected Devroy fellow is second-year Jhett Sherry.

Sherry says that in high school, journalism was his best bet when deciding what to study in college. His family and friends asked him what he wanted to make of himself.

“Journalists play an important part in keeping organizations and society honest and truthful, so I just figured I’d give it a go,” Sherry said. “I’ve been doing it for two years and I haven’t really looked back since.”

Sherry, who shared a few words during the forum, said he plans on using this internship opportunity to his full advantage.

“This fellowship is a great honor and I can’t wait to make the most out of each and every opportunity that this experience opens for me,” Sherry said.

Knutson, who is involved in organizing the speaker from The Post and making sure the selected students travel and board are arranged each year, said she hopes the fellow uses the internship opportunity to its fullest extent.

“I really want them to go there and get the opportunity to see what journalism looks like in a different context,” Knutson said. “I love that this opportunity exists for our students cause it’s the chance to go there [and] build some of those connections … When the student heads out to The Post, they’re networking with so many different professionals.”

Marley explained that since Devroys’ passing, The Post has done their part to uphold her legacy and values as a journalist.

“She’s revered for her work as a White House correspondent,” Marley said. “We very much feel that she is in the tradition of The Washington Post and everyone seeks to emulate her and to ask the hard questions, the fair questions and get to the bottom of what’s happening so ordinary Americans can understand.”

In his talk, titled “Swing State Politics and Election Denialism: The 2024 Presidential Campaign in Wisconsin,” Marley explained the importance of understanding the recent history of election procedures in the Upper Midwest, especially with the presidential election coming up in November.

“There’s just an incredible spate of litigation over how elections are conducted in Wisconsin and in other states,” Marley said. “Readers and viewers really need to understand how that’s all working.”

Marley, who recognizes the shrink in the journalism industry, says that is not necessarily a bad thing.

“Journalism as an industry has shrunk and that’s a bad thing. There’s no doubt that that’s a bad thing. But I guess I’m trying to say like we don’t have to look at it in the worst possible light. That, despite the shrinkage that you’ve seen in the journalism field, there’s still opportunities,” Marley said.

Braun can be reached at [email protected]

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