Friday, September 10, 2010

PEN American Exec. Director to Remember Journalist Murray Kempton in Sept. 20 Talk

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Steven Isenberg, executive director of PEN American Center, will present a tribute to the late journalist Murray Kempton when he delivers the Harwood Lecture in American Journalism on Monday, September 20 at Washington College. The talk, titled “Another Sage of Baltimore: An Appreciation of Murray Kempton,” will take place at 4:30 p.m. in Litrenta Lecture Hall, Toll Science Center, and will be followed by a reception.

Isenberg took the helm of PEN American Center in August of 2009. The largest branch of the world’s oldest international human rights organization, PEN American Center has a membership of 3,400 writers, translators and editors. Basing its programs on the belief that free expression is an essential component of a healthy society, the Center promotes writing and literature, defends writers from persecution and opposes censorship around the world.

Earlier in his career, Isenberg worked in journalism, academia, government and law. He has been interim president of Adelphi University, publisher of New York Newsday, an executive of the Los Angeles Times and chief-of-staff to New York Mayor John Lindsay. He also has taught at numerous colleges, including the University of Texas at Austin (where he received a 2007 Teaching Excellence Award), Berkeley, Yale and Davidson.

The subject of Isenberg’s talk was a colorful character known for his sense of fairness, his intellectual curiosity and his elaborate prose. Murray Kempton grew up in Baltimore and attended Johns Hopkins University, where he was editor of the student newspaper. His 50-year career as a reporter, columnist and editor played out in New York City, starting with the New York Post and ending with Newsday, where he won a Pulitzer Prize.

Isenberg, who worked with Kempton as publisher of New York Newsday, believes the quality of the writer’s character and work is instructive today. His talk will include excerpts from Kempton’s columns and books and the principles that guided him. “My goal is that, after hearing my remembrance, anyone who has never read Murray Kempton will be curious to do so,” says Isenberg. “And those who have read him in the past will be reminded of his achievement and his meaning for today.”

The Richard Harwood Lecture Series was established in honor of the late Washington Post editor and columnist Dick Harwood, who taught and mentored student journalists at Washington College in the 1990s after moving to Chestertown. The event is free and open to the public.

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