Chamberlin Lecture commemorates ISU alumnus, features Wall Street Journal vice president


Photo: Ryan Damman/Iowa State Daily

Paul Gigot, the vice president and editor of the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal, speaks Tuesday, Sept. 21 at Stephens Auditorium as part of the Chamberlin Lecture Series presented by the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication.

Paige Godden

The 2010 Chamberlin Lecture commemorated Robert Bartley, a former Iowa State Daily editor who worked for The Wall Street Journal for more than 30 years, with a painting of him.

Bartley won the Pulitzer Prize for opinion editorial writing in 1980.

“Tonight we recognize the memory and contributions of one of Iowa State’s most successful journalism graduates,” said ISU President Gregory Geoffroy in an introduction.

Bartley’s wife, Edith, as well as several other family members, attended the lecture.

“On behalf of the entire Bartley clan, let me express our thanks for this great occasion,” Edith said. “I remember him saying the two subjects he had taken at Iowa State gave him a leg up over his New York and D.C. contemporaries, which were statistics and ROTC.”

The lecture featured Paul Gigot, editorial page editor and vice president of The Wall Street Journal.

Gigot also hosts a weekly half-hour news program, The Journal Editorial Report, on Fox News and won a Pulitzer Prize in 2000 for his weekly “Potomac Watch” column.

During the lecture, Gigot talked about the similarities between opinion and news journalism.

“Journalists’ fundamental job is to find the news,” Gigot said. “An opinion writer needs to tell the reader something he doesn’t know or hasn’t thought of.”

Gigot said that editorial writing has a great luxury and privilege of not having to mask opinions through other people.

“Looking at the world through a point of view can discover stories that everyone is missing. If everyone thinks alike, everyone sees the same stories,” Gigot said.

He said an exmaple of this happend in 2003, when the Wall Street Journal heard that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were taking too big of risks.

“Those companies could never fail … they couldn’t possibly be a financial risk,” Gigot said.

He said that before the companies failed in 2008, the Wall Street Journal had published 68 editorials about the companies’ risky strategies.

“One of Bob Bartley’s words of wisdom is you have to write at least 65 editorials before anyone will listen to you … I guess we should have written more,” Gigot said. “That failure is one of the great frustrations of my career.”

Gigot said that today, despite all the troubles you read about, it is a wonderful time to be a journalist.

He mentioned the impact bloggers have and the extreme viewpoints MSNBC and Fox News bring to their viewers.

“I’d rather have more voices and more debates than a consensus,” Gigot said.

He said that because of the Internet, the Wall Street Journal has more readers now than it has ever had in its 120 years of publishing.

Gigot said that the new wave of media will test to see “if readers still want editors, and how much they are worth.”