Nov. 12 Panel will Spotlight Investigative Stories

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Nov. 12 Panel will Spotlight Investigative Stories
Nov 7, 2019

By Jamal Williams

The opening of the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism earlier this year helped inspire the theme of the 14th annual Povich Symposium.

The panel, set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12, at the University of Maryland’s Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center, is hosted by the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism, and is free and open to the public. Every year, the event tries to dig into new trends and issues facing the world of sports.

“We put together a list of people we thought have done impactful sports investigative stories over the past few years, and we were fortunate that pretty much everyone we asked said yes,” said Kaitlyn Wilson, assistant director of the Povich Center.

The event will be moderated by Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, the managing editor of the Washington Post. He also served as the sports editor of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, where in 1999 he directed the newspaper’s Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of academic fraud in the University of Minnesota men’s basketball team.

Panelists include Marisa Kwiatkowski of USA Today, who was a key figure in uncovering the mistreatment of members of USA Gymnastics by former team doctor Larry Nassar, as well as Bob Ley of ESPN, Mark Fainaru-Wada of ESPN, David Aldridge of The Athletic, Joe Drape of the New York Times and Sacha Pfeiffer of NPR.

Kwiatkowski worked with a team of reporters at the Indianapolis Star in 2016 to uncover the sexual abuse allegations against Nassar and the failure of USA Gymnastics to protect its athletes. The investigation eventually led to a prison sentence for Nassar and the collapse of USA Gymnastics.

“What Marisa was able to do with USA Gymnastics and Larry Nassar launched a movement for those gymnasts and those women coming forward,” Wilson said. “Her work is incredible.”

Ley hosted of ESPN’s investigative news program “Outside the Lines” from the since the show’s inception in May 1990 until his retirement in June. Ley also hosted ESPN’s weekly “E:60” show on Sunday mornings. He helped lead the sports network’s coverage of many groundbreaking stories, including concussions and brain injuries in athletes and the NFL’s handling of domestic violence cases.

The rest of the panel features more heavy-hitters from the realm of investigative sports journalism, including Fainaru-Wada, who along with his colleague Lance Williams helped to uncover the BALCO steroid case in baseball, and Pfeiffer, who worked with the Boston Globe’s famed Spotlight team on its coverage of the Catholic Church’s cover-up of sexual abuse in the clergy as well as its coverage on the life and death of former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez.

“It’s an incredible opportunity to hear these people talk and learn how they went about attacking these stories, changing the narrative in the field,” Wilson said. “I hope our students realize that this kind of journalism is important and they can study it and learn how to do it here.”

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