Panelists set for Toner Symposium on March 26

Four pioneering women journalists will highlight the challenges and opportunities of reporting the news in the digital age at the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications in late March.

The women will share their experiences and insights in a panel discussion titled “Keeping a Place in the News: Journalism & Women 2012” for the Toner Symposium on March 26. The symposium is part of The Robin Toner Program in Political Reporting. It celebrates the legacy of alumna Robin Toner, the first woman to be national political correspondent for The New York Times.  The event also includes awarding the $5,000 Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting to Jane Mayer of The New Yorker.

“Like Robin Toner, these women journalists are inspiring for their accomplishments,” said Charlotte Grimes, the Knight Chair in Political Reporting and administrator of the Toner Program.  The panel is especially meaningful for March, which is Women’s History Month, said Grimes.

The symposium is free and open to the public. It begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Hergenhan Auditorium of the Newhouse School.


The four panelists are:

Jane Mayer: writer for The New Yorker and the 2011 winner of the Toner Prize for her story, “State for Sale,” tracing the influence of a powerful political donor on the state of North Carolina. In 1984, Mayer was the first woman to be White House correspondent for the Wall Street Journal. She reported for the Journal for 12 years. Her career includes covering the bombing of the U.S. Marines barracks in Beirut, the Persian Gulf war and the Koch brothers’  funding of the Tea Party movement.   Mayer is the author of the best-selling 2008 book “The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals”  and co-author of two other books on the Reagan administration’s role in the Iran-Contra affair and on the politics behind the Supreme Court nomination of Clarence Thomas amid accusations of sexual harassment by Anita Hill. Mayer’s awards include the John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism,  the Edward Weintal Prize from Georgetown University,  the Ridenhour Book Prize, the Robert F. Kennedy Book Prize and Harvard University’s Goldsmith Book Prize.

Peggy Simpson: a Washington reporter for the Women’s Media Center, a New York-based website. Simpson was a named plaintiff in the 1970s sex and race class-action lawsuit against The Associated Press that opened many journalism opportunities for women and minorities. She worked for The AP for 15 years, five of them in Texas and a decade in Washington covering Congress. In 1963, she was among The AP reporters who covered the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and witnessed the shooting of accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby. In 1972, she developed a beat on the women’s political movement for The Associated Press. She also was Washington bureau chief for MS. magazine, covered politics for Hearst Newspapers and was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. As a freelance writer, she covered Central European countries after the election of the Solidarity government in Warsaw and the fall of the Berlin Wall. She was on the founding board of the Journalism and Women Symposium (JAWS).  Simpson is president of the board of Dupont Circle Village, part of the emerging national aging-in-place movement.

Lynette Clemetsondirector of NPR’s StateImpact, a public media collaboration examining how state policy affects people’s lives. Her career includes print and digital journalism. Clemetson, who speaks Mandarin Chinese, was an Asia correspondent for Newsweek, where she contributed to the magazine’s Overseas Press Club Award for coverage of the former British colony of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule in 1997. She was a correspondent for The New York Times, covering political, social and cultural issues. Clemetson was founding managing editor of, launched in 2008 by the Washington Post Co. and Harvard University ‘s Henry Louis Gates Jr. to raise the profile of African-American voices in digital and traditional media. In 2010 she was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan, where she researched the viability of online news models and developed an entrepreneurial journalism seminar for the Knight-Wallace program. Before joining NPR, Clemetson was director of content strategy at Pew Center on the States, where she led planning for a new website and digital publishing operation. Clemetson worked as a colleague and friend of Robin Toner for five years at The New York Times.

Kristin Carlson: the co-anchor  of “The Thirty” show focusing on local in-depth interviews on a wide variety of topics for WCAX-TV in Burlington, Vermont. Before that, she was the station’s senior political reporter covering the state capital.  Carlson has won multiple awards for political and investigative reporting. In 2010, she  won an Alfred I. duPont Columbia University silver baton for her series “Foreigners on the Farm” that exposed illegal labor is keeping many Vermont dairy farms alive. The duPont is the highest award in broadcast journalism. She has also received several Edward R. Murrow awards for best investigative reporting, including a story called “Harassment on the Job” that looked into how women employees are treated in the Vermont Transportation Agency, and “Smoke Screen” that uncovered the difference in smoke detectors following a fatal fire in Barre.  Since the story aired, the state passed a law requiring photoelectric detectors in new homes. Carlson is a 1999 graduate of the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.


For more information, contact:

Professor Charlotte Grimes