University Park

Award-winning journalists highlight Foster-Foreman Conference

Campus visitors for the Foster-Foreman Conference are Carol Leonnig (left) and Elisabeth Rosenthal. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Two award-winning and seasoned journalists with different backgrounds will present lectures and host question-and-answer sessions as part of the two-day Foster-Foreman Conference of Distinguished Writers in late October at Penn State.

Elisabeth Rosenthal, a practicing physician who became a reporter for The New York Times in 1994, kicks off the event at 7 p.m. Oct. 28 in Schwab Auditorium on the University Park campus.Carol Leonnig, a reporter for The Washington Post, concludes the conference at 9:45 a.m. Oct. 29 in the HUB-Robeson Center’s Freeman Auditorium on the University Park campus.

Both sessions, which will feature the guests reading from the work and answering questions from the audience, are free and open to the public.

Leonnig has been a reporter since 2001 for the Post, where her investigations have led to sweeping government reforms as well as prizes for distinguished journalism. After she broke numerous stories about dysfunction in the Secret Service, the service’s director and other leaders were replaced. In awarding her the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting, the Pulitzer board praised “her smart, persistent coverage of the Secret Service, its security lapses and the ways in which the agency neglected its vital task: the protection of the President of the United States.” Leonnig’s Secret Service stories also won the George Polk Award for national reporting this year.

Previously she was on Post teams that won the 2005 Selden Ring Award for investigations, a 2014 Polk Award for national reporting, and the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for public service. Leonnig earlier reported for The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Charlotte Observer and Knight Ridder’s Washington bureau.

For the last two years, Rosenthal has produced an ongoing series of articles for The New York Times on the high cost of medical care in the United States. The series, “Pay Till It Hurts,” is based on crowdsourcing -- readers’ reports of their personal experiences that she compiled into a database and then checked out with her medical expertise and reporting skills. The series won the 2014 Victor Cohn Prize from the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing, which cited “her ability to translate and humanize the nation’s mind-numbingly complex health care system.” 

Among her Times assignments, Rosenthal was Beijing correspondent for six years and covered European health and environment from Rome for five years. She earned degrees in history, biology, English literature and medicine. Before becoming a full-time journalist, she was an emergency-department doctor five years.

Curt Chandler, a senior lecturer in the Department of Journalism, will moderate Leonnig’s lecture. Martin Halstuk, an associate professor in the Department of Journalism, will serve as the moderator for Rosenthal’s session.

The Foster-Foreman Conference is designed to bring together students, and some of the best reporters and writers in journalism. Since its inception in 1999, the conference has attracted 41 Pulitzer Prize winners to campus to share their experience and skills. Ten Penn State graduates have been speakers in the series. The conference is named for Penn State alumni Larry and Ellen foster, whose initial gift made the conference possible, and Gene Foreman, the retired Foster Professor of Communications, who has directed the conference since it began.

Last Updated June 02, 2021