Howell Raines selected as 2013 Davis Distinguished Lecturer

AUBURN UNIVERSITY – Howell Raines, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and former executive editor of The New York Times, will deliver the 2013 Neil O. and Henrietta Davis Distinguished Lecture on Thursday, April 18, at 6 p.m. in the Dixon Auditorium The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center.

The program is presented by the Auburn University Department of Communication and Journalism in the College of Liberal Arts and is open to the public. The Davis Lecture Series, established in 1996 to honor the late Neil O. and Henrietta W. Davis, encourages excellence in journalism and features distinguished journalists who inspire students to follow the spirit and the principles embodied in the couple’s life and work.

Raines was political editor at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the St. Petersburg Times before joining the Atlanta bureau of the New York Times in 1978. In his 25 years with the New York Times, he served as Atlanta bureau chief, national political correspondent, London bureau chief, Washington editor, editorial page editor and executive editor. During Raines’ first year at the helm in 2001, the Times won a record seven Pulitzer Prizes, including the highest honor the organization gives, the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

In 1992, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing, for his story “Grady’s Gift,” an article for the New York Times Magazine focusing on his childhood in Alabama. Raines is the author of four books, including “My Soul is Rested,” a history of the Civil Rights Movement. His first book, “Whiskey Man,” published in 1977, is a novel set in Depression-era Alabama. He also has written two memoirs, “Fly Fishing Through the Midlife Crisis” and “The One That Got Away.”

Born in Birmingham, Raines earned degrees in English from Birmingham Southern College and the University of Alabama and holds honorary doctorates from both institutions. He began his journalism career in 1964, working for, respectively, the Birmingham Post-Herald, WBRC-TV, the Tuscaloosa News and the Birmingham News. He now splits time between homes in Fairhope, Ala., and Henryville, Pa., with his wife Kristina, a journalist and public relations executive.

Neil Owen Davis founded The Lee County Bulletin in 1937 and served as publisher and editor for 40 years. He was a 1935 Auburn graduate and a Nieman Fellow whose incisive editorials won state and national awards and was reprinted in such publications as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Louisville Courier-Journal and The Atlanta Journal Constitution. Henrietta Worsley Davis, also a 1935 graduate, was the newspaper’s associate editor and chief reporter. Her precise and complete coverage of civic matters, particularly education, made The Bulletin a staple in Auburn homes.

The couple devoted their professional lives to making their newspaper an agent for positive change in the community, giving a voice to the voiceless and advancing the cause of civil rights in Alabama and throughout the Southeast. Neil Davis also taught courses in journalism at Auburn University.

The Davises’ purchase of The Tuskegee News to provide coverage of the black community in Macon County and their responsible reporting on numerous events such as the desegregation of Auburn University and Auburn’s public schools are widely considered critical acts of leadership during troubled times. Both have been inducted into the Alabama Press Association’s Hall of Honor on the Auburn campus.

The Davis Lecture is endowed by the gifts of the Davis family and friends, distinguished journalists, their newspapers, Auburn University alumni and faculty.

(Contributed by Vicky Santos.)

Contact: Nan Fairley, Department of Communication and Journalism in the College of Liberal Arts, (334) 844-4593 (fairlln@auburn.edu), or Mike Clardy, Office of Communications and Marketing, (334) 844-9999 (clardch@auburn.edu)