Embedded Iraq journalist to visit campus on endowment

Hanna Ory

Credit: O. Johnson
Credit: O. Johnson

Whitman Alumnus and freelance journalist, William Murray, will present the college’s annual Hosokawa Lecture in Journalism on Monday, March 9.  

Murray, who spent the summer of 2008 imbedded in Iraq, will present on, “The Problem with Today’s Media (Or Why News Coverage of Iraq Was so Poor) and What We Can Do about It.” The Lecture will be held in the Young Ballroom at 7 p.m.

The lecture is part of the Hosokawa endowment, a generous gift in honor of Robert R. Hosokawa, intended to finance annual journalism awards and bring accomplished journalists to the college for lectures and workshops.

“The Hosokawa endowment is one of many very valuable memorable programs that Whitman offers thanks to the generosity of visionary donors who love this place,” said Ruth Wardwell, director of communications.

Wardwell helps orchestrate such events and is in charge of selecting the speaker for the Hosokawa lecture. She first learned of Murray through Tony Cabasco, dean of admission and financial aid and classmate of Murray’s, graduating from Whitman two years prior in 1990.

“I started thinking, wouldn’t it be fascinating to hear from a journalist who has been embedded [in Iraq]. Here you have a journalist who is supposed to be impartial. How great would it be to hear him talk about that experience and the media coverage there,” said Waldwell.

Though Waldwell had the initial idea, she made sure to gather student feedback before finalizing her selection.

“I don’t want the Hosokawa award to be a prescribed thing for me, what is most important to me is that the speaker is useful for students and attendees,” said Waldwell.

After learning of Murray’s accomplishments, students gave overwhelming support in favor of him coming.

According to the Whitman News Service?, upon his graduation from Whitman in 1992, Murray worked in Alaska as a public radio news director before entering a graduate degree program at Columbia University’s School of Journalism. In the following years, he worked for “Bloomberg News” in both Washington D.C. and London, covering a variety of issues and topics.

In July 2008 Murray embarked on a three-month endeavor embedded in Iraq as a freelance journalists. Most recently, Murray has returned to Capital Hill as a correspondent for an energy intelligence organization.

Murray’s unique experiences offer the Whitman community a powerful perspective on the shortcomings of the media, and insightful suggestions as to how such deficiencies can be improved.

“The media is a powerful, powerful aspect of society. Many of us have perceptions about journalists and media some are valid some without merit, and getting the opportunity to hear from someone from the inside of it can increase understanding of how it works,” said Waldwell.

Murray’s published articles from his time in Iraq can be viewed at www.longwarjournal.org or on his own website, which includes an exclusive interview with fellow Whitman graduate and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, at www.billiniraq.com.