Award-winning journalists featured in Foster-Foreman Conference

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Two award-winning journalists will be featured in free public events that comprise the Foster-Foreman Conference of Distinguished Writers, scheduled for Oct. 18-19 on the University Park campus.

Wesley Lowery of The Washington Post and Lisa Falkenberg of the Houston Chronicle will share examples of their work and participate in question-and-answer sessions Oct. 18 and Oct. 19, respectively. Lowery’s session will begin at 7 p.m. Oct. 18, in Schwab Auditorium and Falkenberg will be featured at 10:35 a.m. Oct. 19, in Freeman Auditorium of the HUB-Robeson Center.

Lowery covers law enforcement and justice for The Washington Post. He has chronicled the “Black Lives Matter” movement, beginning with the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, that followed the shooting of an African-American boy by a white police officer in 2014. Lowery was one of two journalists arrested in Ferguson at a McDonald’s they were using as a reporting base. The charges were ultimately dismissed. 

Lowery played a key role in The Post’s decision to compile a national database, beginning in 2015, that tracked fatal shootings by on-duty police. At the time the federal government itself lacked such comprehensive data. The Post’s “Fatal Force” project was honored with the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. Lowery received the 2014 “emerging journalist of the year” award from the National Association of Black Journalists. His memoir, “They Can’t Kill Us All,” was published in 2016 by Little, Brown. 

Falkenberg is a metro columnist at the Houston Chronicle. She is a sixth-generation Texan and the first in her family to go to college. She has been a practicing journalist since high school in the small town of Seguin, near San Antonio. She joined The Associated Press in Dallas in 2001, covering such events as the Columbia shuttle disaster and a deadly refinery explosion in Texas City. She was the AP’s Texas “writer of the year” in 2004. Also that year, she joined the Chronicle’s capitol bureau in Austin. In 2007, at age 28, she became a columnist. 

Her work made her a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in commentary in 2014. The next year, she won the commentary prize for what the judges praised as “vividly written, groundbreaking columns about grand jury abuses that led to wrongful conviction and other egregious problems in the legal and immigration systems.” 

The Foster-Foreman Conference of Distinguished Writers, made possible by a gift from Penn State alumni Larry and Ellen Foster, was designed to bring students together with standout journalists. Under the direction of Gene Foreman, the retired Foster Professor of Communications, the conference is an opportunity for students to acquaint themselves with distinguished role models in the profession.

This is the 35th conference to be held under the auspices of the Foster Professorship and the ninth renamed as the Foster-Foreman Conference to honor the leadership of Foreman, who has directed the event since its inception in 1999.

Larry Foster, who earned his journalism degree from Penn State in 1948, died in October 2013. He was a Penn State Distinguished Alumnus and Lion’s Paw Medal recipient who retired in 1990 as vice president of public relations at Johnson & Johnson. An author himself, he published “Robert Wood Johnson: The Gentleman Rebel” in 1999.

He served on the Penn State Board of Trustees from 1980 to 1989, and was president of the Alumni Association and the Penn State Fund Council. Before joining Johnson & Johnson, he was a reporter, bureau chief and night editor of the Newark News in New Jersey. Ellen (Miller) Foster, a 1949 Penn State alumna, has, along with her late husband, been committed for many years to philanthropy at the University.

Last Updated September 22, 2017