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Mcgill Symposium

2008 Visiting Journalists

John Drescher, executive editor, The News & Observer, Raleigh, NC

Vicki S. Gowler, vice president and editor, Idaho Statesman, Boise, ID

Sarwat Husain, editor in chief, Al-Ittihaad, San Antonio, TX

Judith Martinez-Sadri, editor, Atlanta Latino and, Atlanta, GA

Jerry Mitchell, reporter, Jackson Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, MS

Carolyn Cole, staff photographer, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, CA.


Carolyn Cole is a staff photographer for the Los Angeles Times. She won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography in 2004, for her coverage of the siege of Monrovia, the capital of Liberia.

Cole graduated from The University of Texas in 1983 with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in photojournalism. She began her career in 1986 as a staff photographer with the El Paso Herald Post, a position which she occupied until 1988. She then moved to the San Francisco Examiner for two years, before spending another two years as a freelance photographer in Mexico City, working with newspapers such as the Los Angeles Times, Detroit Free Press, and Business Week. In 1992, Cole returned to being a staff photographer, working for The Sacramento Bee, before moving to the Times in 1994.

In 1994, the same year she moved to the Times, she was recognized in their editorial awards for her pictures of the crisis in Haiti. The following year, she was recognized again, this time for her work in Russia.

In 1997, she gained attention for her photographs of dying bank robber Emil Matasareanu, who had been shot after a nationally televised shootout with police. Her evidence was used in the wrongful death lawsuit filed by his family. Her pictures also helped the Times win a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the event. Later that year, she was named Journalist of the Year by the Times Mirror Corporation.

Cole has also had difficulties with the law. In April 2000, she was arrested on felony charges for "throwing deadly missiles" at police during protests in Miami's "Little Havana," at the height of the Elián González affair. Her critics alleged that this was an attempt to fire up the crowd in order to gain more shocking pictures. All charges were dropped, though, for lack of evidence.

Cole spent time in Kosovo during the 1999 crisis, and in 2001, spent two months in Afghanistan. In 2002, she received the National Press Photographers Association Newspaper Photographer of the Year award for the first time.

In 2002, Cole covered the beginnings of the prominent siege of Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity, which had been occupied by Palestinian militants. Then, on May 2, she made a last-minute decision to join a group of peace activists who entered the building in solidarity with the Palestinians. Over the nine days that followed, she doubled as a news reporter for the Times, filing several stories. She was the only photojournalist in the building itself. The pictures she took earned her a nomination for the 2003 Pulitzer Prize.

In mid-2003, Cole went to Liberia, as rebels surrounded the capital, Monrovia, demanding the resignation of President Charles Taylor. This trip was to earn her the 2004 Pulitzer Prize, "for her cohesive, behind-the-scenes look at the effects of civil war in Liberia, with special attention to innocent citizens caught in the conflict."
On top of the Pulitzer win, in 2004 Cole was named both NPPA Newspaper Photographer of the Year for a second time, for her work in both Liberia and Iraq, and the Pictures of the Year International Newspaper Photographer by the University of Missouri. This made her the first person ever to win all three of America's top photojournalism awards in the same year. During the year, she also spent time in Haiti, witnessing the fall of the regime of Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Cole has also received the Robert Capa Gold Medal from the Overseas Press Club in both 2003 and 2004, and won two World Press Photo awards in 2004.

-- From Wikipedia

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John Drescher is executive editor of The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C.

Drescher grew up in Raleigh and is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill and of Duke University. He was a reporter from 1983 to 1986 at The News & Observer, where he covered state and local government. He then worked for 12 years at The Charlotte Observer as a state capitol reporter and later in several editing jobs, including government editor, metro editor, regional editor and front-page editor.

In 2000, he was named managing editor of The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C. In 2002, he became managing editor of The News & Observer. In 2007, he was named executive editor of The N&O, the seventh person to hold that job since the paper was launched in 1894.

His book,"Triumph of Good Will: How Terry Sanford Beat a Champion of Segregation and Reshaped the South," was published in 2000 by the University Press of Mississippi.

He and his wife, Deanna, have two daughters who attend Wake County public schools, and one daughter who attends UNC-Chapel Hill.

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Vicki S. Gowler is vice president and editor of the Idaho Statesman, Boise, Idaho.

Gowler, a journalist for 35 years, has been the top editor at the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the Idaho Statesman and the Duluth News-Tribune. She also was a senior editor at The Miami Herald and in the Knight-Ridder Washington, D.C., bureau. She ran the presidential campaign coverage for all of Knight Ridder in 1992.

Her staff in St. Paul won the Pulitzer Prize in 2000 for exposing a scandal in the University of Minnesota basketball program that involved a tutor writing papers for athletes. Her staff in Boise was a Pulitzer finalist in 2008 for its coverage of U.S. Senator Larry Craig's arrest for soliciting gay sex in a men's airport restroom. One of her reporters in the Washington bureau was a Pulitzer finalist in 1991 for an investigative piece that showed the disparities in how states used Medicaid funds.

Gowler has been a juror for the Pulitzer twice. She has been a Poynter Ethics Fellow and has attended Advanced Executive Programs at Northwestern, Harvard and American Press Institute as well as numerous Knight Ridder executive development and marketing leadership programs. She won one of Knight Ridder's top awards, its Excellence Award for Community Commitment in 1996. She is a member of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and has chaired its ethics committee.

Gowler grew up on a farm in central Illinois and attended the University of Illinois where she earned a bachelor's degree in journalism. She worked at two papers in Illinois, the Iroquois County Times in Watseka and the Quincy Herald-Whig, before moving to the Miami Herald in 1978. She worked in Southeast Florida for 10 years in a variety of roles, starting as a reporter and ending as the top editor in Palm Beach County. Her journalistic coming-of-age came at the Herald with the Liberty City riots, the Mariel boatlift, the rise and fall of cocaine and even a Category 2 hurricane.

In the Washington bureau, she supervised coverage of the economy, the Supreme Court, Congress and a special "close-to-home" team on topics including health care, consumer safety and demographic issues.

Her first executive editor job was in Duluth, Minn... She then moved to St. Paul and spent 8 years there, first as managing editor and then editor. Her move to Boise occurred in late 2005, when Knight Ridder got the paper from Gannett. Gowler is well-known as a change agent who puts readers first, focuses on local news from watchdog journalism to neighborhood news, and works to build better communities.

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Sarwat Husain is publisher of Al-Ittihaad Monthly, the largest American Muslim newspaper in Texas. She also is a frequent guest columnist for the San Antonio Express News. Husain is the founding president of the San Antonio chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and a national board member of CAIR.

Husain also serves on the board of the San Antonio Mayors Commission, the San Antonio Inter-religious Council and the Texas Media Empowerment Project. She is a founder of the San Antonio Muslim Council and a member of the FBI Regional Advisory Council and the San Antonio Council for International Visitors.

Husain works to encourage political engagement in Texas, conducting regular voter registration drives and trainings on how to become delegates, precinct chairs and judges. She is a member of the Texas Muslim Political Taskforce and currently serves as president of the Texas Muslim Democratic Caucus.

Husain helped found the American Muslim Youth Association and the Muslim Boys Scouts of America, Pack 786, and acts as an advisor to both. She is extensively involved in interfaith dialogue and regularly offers diversity trainings on Muslim beliefs and practices at businesses, universities, churches and law enforcement agencies.

Husain has been profiled in The Face Behind the Veil: The Extraordinary Lives of Muslim Women in America and in articles published in the San Antonio Current, ColorLines, PressTime, and the San Antonio Express News.

She holds a master's degree in nutrition from the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio. She has owned and operated alternate care facilities for the elderly and a child development center, and has worked as a nutritional consultant to hospitals and nursing homes.

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Judith Martinez-Sadri is the co-founder and Editor in Chief of the leading bilingual Hispanic publication in metro-Atlanta, Atlanta Latino Newspaper and In this role since March 2002, she serves as Atlanta Latino Newspaper's chief journalist, educating and informing Georgia's diverse Latino population with breaking news and information through multi media platforms - print, radio, and the Internet. She also provides leadership around the coverage of major events, political news, as well as other special journalistic projects as it relates to the Hispanic community.

Her experience in the communications field spans over a decade. Judith majored in Mass Media Communications with a minor in Advertising from the State University of Nuevo Leon in Mexico. As one of the southeast's most experienced Hispanic journalists, she has worked for the largest Spanish language television network in Mexico called Televisa and held a senior marketing position for the leading publishing company in Mexico City, Reforma. Reforma is part of Grupo Reforma, a media company that controls a newswire service and a number of Mexican daily newspapers totaling nearly 400,000 readers nationwide.

In 2003, Judith was recognized by the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce as "Businesswoman of the Year" and is the youngest Latina to have ever received this award. Under her editorial leadership, Atlanta Latino Newspaper has received numerous awards by the National Association of Hispanic Newspapers, one of the most reputable associations that recognizes Spanish journalism in the U.S. This year she received The Gold Award for best Education Story and The Silver Award for best Editorial.
Judith is a member of the Women's Leadership Exchange and The National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Judith is currently on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Hispanic Publications.

She currently lives in Duluth, Georgia with her husband Farid and their son, Diego.

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Jerry Mitchell has been called "a loose cannon," "a pain in the ass" and "a white traitor." Whatever he's been called, Jerry Mitchell has never given up in his quest to bring unpunished killers to justice, prompting one colleague to call him "the South's Simon Wiesenthal."

Since 1989, the 47-year-old investigative reporter for The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., has unearthed documents, cajoled suspects and witnesses, and quietly pursued evidence in the nation's notorious killings from the civil rights era.

His work so far has helped put four Klansmen behind bars: Byron De La Beckwith for the 1963 assassination of NAACP leader Medgar Evers, Imperial Wizard Sam Bowers for ordering the fatal firebombing of NAACP leader Vernon Dahmer in 1966, Bobby Cherry for the 1963 bombing of a Birmingham church that killed four girls and, most recently, Edgar Ray Killen, for helping orchestrate the June 21, 1964, killings of Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman.

In 2006, Mitchell was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist, the winner of the George Polk Award for Justice Reporting, the winner of the Vernon Jarrett Award for Investigative Reporting and the Tom Renner Award for Crime Reporting from Investigative Reporters and Editors. Mitchell is the youngest recipient of Columbia University's John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism.

David Halberstam said in helping bestow the Chancellor award, "Mitchell pursued these stories after most people believed they belonged to history, and not to journalism. But they did belong to journalism, because the truth had never been told and justice had never been done."
Mitchell, who joined The Clarion-Ledger in 1986, has been profiled by Nightline, USA TODAY, The New York Times, American Journalism Review and others. He has regularly appeared as an expert on CNN, the Lehrer News Hour and other programs.

But there's more to Mitchell than just hard-hitting reporting. His 10-chapter narrative, "Genetic Disaster," described his family's often losing battle against a rare genetic ailment and his journey to find out if he had the deadly disease.

Mitchell received a master's degree in journalism from Ohio State University in 1997, where he attended the Kiplinger Reporting Program. He lives in Jackson, Miss., with his wife and their two children.

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Read the 2008 Symposium report [pdf]