"Politics and the Media" Panel Discussion, April 25

In celebration of William Allen White’s 150th birth year, we are honoring the namesake of the KU School of Journalism with panel discussions and lectures from esteemed journalists from around the United States.

KU alumni and student Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists will participate in a panel discussion, “Politics and the Media,” at 4 p.m. April 25 in 3139 Wescoe Hall. “Politics and the Media” will feature  J.B. Forbes​,​ Patricia Gaston, Kevin Helliker​ and Colleen McCain Nelson. Read about our Pulitzer Prize-winning alumni panelists below. 

If you’d like to learn more about the events, the schedule is here


J.B. Forbes

J.B. Forbes (j'73) is in his 43rd year at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He got his start at the University of Kansas where he majored in photojournalism. He worked in Topeka and Parsons, Kansas, and Miami, Florida, before moving to St. Louis.

During his career, he has been staff photographer, photo editor and now chief photographer. Forbes started traveling internationally for the Post-Dispatch in 1980. He's been to 30 countries covering wars, natural disasters and political strife. Some of his most rewarding work occurred in Haiti where Forbes made seven trips covering revolution, embargo, medical missions and the massive earthquake of 2010. Forbes has been to several war zones during his career including El Salvador, Nicaragua, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2014, he made a trip to India to do a story on an orphanage started by a St. Louis doctor.

Forbes was runner-up College Photographer of the Year in 1972. He has been the National Press Photographer's Regional Photographer of the Year four times and runner-up five times. He was in the first class to win first-place awards in both the Pro Football and Pro Baseball Hall of Fame Photo Contests. He has received over 100 awards during his career. Forbes took part in the team coverage of the Kirkwood City Hall shootings in 2008 that became a Pulitzer Prize finalist.  In 2012, he was selected to become a member of the Missouri Photojournalism Hall of Fame. In 2014, Forbes and the rest of the photo staff of the Post-Dispatch won the Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of Ferguson and the Michael Brown shooting aftermath. In March of this year, Forbes was inducted into the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame

Forbes has lived on the same seven-acre horse farm near Fenton, Missouri with his wife, Debbie, since 1983 where they raised their four children. Currently, they have twelve grandchildren.


Patricia Gaston

Patricia E. (Weems) Gaston (j'81) is an editor at The Washington Post, where she has worked on several desks including National, Foreign and Editorial. Before coming to the Post in 1997, Gaston worked at the Dallas Morning News, where she was an assistant foreign editor and was co-editor of the 1994 Pulitzer Prize-winning series on violence against women.

She grew up in Kansas City, Kansas, and graduated from the University of Kansas in 1981. She has a master's degree in sports management from The George Washington University.

In 2013, she was a Leadership Institute Fellow with the Center for American Progress, a progressive public policy program. In her spare time, Gaston has worked as a kitchen, case management and advocacy volunteer at Miriam's Kitchen and served on the agency's Volunteer Advocacy Advisory Committee.

She recently completed her second, two-year term as the co-chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force of the American Association of University Women.


Kevin Helliker

During my youth in Kansas City, Kansas, I delivered more than a million newspapers, tossing them from the back of my father’s truck. I went off to college wanting nothing more to do with newspapers. My major was English Literature. But as I prepared to graduate in the teeth of the 1981 recession, I noticed something surprising: At a time of layoffs and 10 percent unemployment, good jobs awaited graduates of the William Allen White School of Journalism.

So I stayed a fifth year at Kansas to study newspaper reporting and editing under Rick Musser, Ted Frederickson, John Bremner and Susanne Shaw. They impressed upon me that journalism was not just a job. It was a vocation no less serious than medicine. In the Kansan newsroom I encountered for the first time in my college career a group of students truly passionate about something other than partying. Under the guidance of those professors and the influence of my fellow student journalists, I did some decent work, and less than a year after taking my first Reporting 101 class I received a job offer from the Kansas City Star. As a paperboy I’d paid innumerable 2 A.M. visits to the docks behind the Star building. Now, walking through the front door of that building as a reporter, I felt like Cinderella.

That magical sense of possibility lingered throughout my 26 years at the Wall Street Journal, where I worked overseas, ran its Dallas and Chicago bureaus and won a Pulitzer Prize. As the editor now of a startup magazine, I’m at the forefront of a move toward high-quality corporate journalism. It’s a fabulous ride that I’ll never forget began at Flint Hall. (Kevin Helliker is a 1982 graduate.)


Colleen McCain Nelson

Colleen McCain Nelson (j'97) is vice president and editorial page editor of The Kansas City Star and Opinion Editor of the McClatchy media company. She joined The Star in December 2016 after working as a White House Correspondent for The Wall Street Journal and as an editorial writer and columnist for The Dallas Morning News.

Nelson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and a former political reporter who has chronicled three presidential campaigns. In 2016, she criss-crossed the country with Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. As a White House reporter for The Wall Street Journal, she wrote about the policies, politics and personalities in President Barack Obama’s administration, traveling the world with the president and vice president.

Before joining The Wall Street Journal, Nelson worked at The Dallas Morning News where she wrote about local, state and national politics as a reporter and, later, as an editorial writer and a columnist.

In 2010, Nelson and two of her colleagues were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing, recognition for a series of editorials that condemned the stark economic and social disparity separating Dallas’ thriving northern half and struggling southern half. Nelson was raised in Salina, Kan., and is a graduate of the University of Kansas.


Alberto Araujo

Alberto Araujo is an international graduate student in his second year in the master’s program at the School of Journalism. He will graduate in May 2018.

He has 10 years of experience reporting, investigating and producing news in newspapers and broadcasting in Ecuador, South America, his home country. During this time, he learned how to investigate, build and write thousands of articles, features, and news reports that were published in the two main newspapers in his country. One of his articles that was published was in 2016 as part of the international investigation “Panama Papers” led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). Araujo was one of six reporters who collaborated with the investigation in Ecuador, and he was one of the 300 journalists all over the world who actively participated in this global research. This investigation was awarded the Pulitzer Prize last year at the University of Columbia in New York.

Here at KU, Araujo is doing research related to the new business models for newspaper companies because the model based on advertising and hard copy sales is in crisis. In the last 15 years, the circulation of the daily newspapers in the United States has decreased about 65 percent. Araujo is trying to learn how newspapers here are developing new streams of revenues to solve this problem. His thesis is focused on the newspapers’ best practices to attract more readers and engage them. He found five newspaper companies that have been increasing their paid print circulation for more than two years since 2012. 

Araujo is still making decisions about his future after graduation. He has an option to stay at KU and with the Ph.D. program in the School of Journalism. He has another opportunity to go to England to pursue a second master’s degree or go back to his country and work as a news media consultant.


William Allen White 150 events

Pete Souza lecture and presentation
7 p.m., April 24, Lied Center
Pete Souza, White House photographer for Presidents Obama and Reagan, took nearly two million photographs throughout President Obama's two terms. More than 300 of these images are featured in his New York Time #1 bestselling book, "Obama: An Intimate Portrait." Books will be available for purchase at the event. People who purchase books at the event also will receive a bookplate signed by the author. (Free and open to the public; advance reservations not required.)

Film premiere: "William Allen White: What's the Matter with Kansas?"
• 5:30 p.m., 3139  Wescoe Hall
Film premiere of a new documentary of William Allen White by KU filmmakers Kevin Willmott and Scott Richardson. The William Allen White Foundation commissioned the film. DVDs of the film will be available for order. (Free and open to the public.)

“The Future of Journalism” panel discussion
3:30 p.m. April 26, Kansas Memorial Union Ballroom
William Allen White Foundation National Citation Award winners Bob Dotson, Gerald Seib and Paul Steiger will be joined by KU journalism students for a panel discussion on the importance of journalism what the future holds for journalists and media. (Free and open to the public.)

If you’d like to learn more about the events, the schedule is here