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TFAS Novak and Rago Journalism Fellows Converge for Cross-Pollination of Ideas and Professional Development During DC Retreat


On Jan. 24, our current Robert Novak Journalism Fellows and our Joseph Rago Memorial Fellow at The Wall Street Journal came together for a one-day retreat at TFAS Headquarters in Washington, D.C. The event kicked off with a panel on how journalists are covering the rapidly changing political culture of America. The panel featured Katherine Mangu-Ward, Novak ’05, the editor-in-chief of Reason, and Curt Mills, Novak ’18, a senior writer at The American Conservative, as well as Jacob Heilbrunn, the editor of the foreign-policy journal The National Interest.

At lunchtime, Fellows heard from Tim Carney, Novak ’03, about his latest book, “Alienated America,” and how the Novak Fellowship jump-started his career and became the basis for his first book, “The Big Ripoff.” Fellows peppered Carney with questions about his reporting style, seeking advice about how to get honest and unguarded opinions from Americans who might be wary of journalists.

After lunch, the Fellows heard from a panel of scholars with expertise on two of the most controversial questions the country has faced: impeachment and secession. Cato Institute Vice President Gene Healy, author of “The Cult of the Presidency,” provided historical and legal insight into the impeachment process. And F.H. Buckley, the Foundation Professor at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia School of Law, discussed his just-published book “American Secession: The Looming Threat of a National Breakup.” The panelists and Fellows discussed how to write about high-voltage topics for a wide and appreciative audience. TFAS President Roger Ream ’76 and TFAS Grewcock Senior Scholar Dr. Donald Devine also participated in the retreat’s conversations.

During the course of the day, Fellows got to compare notes about their Fellowship projects and discuss other recent and forthcoming work. One of our current fellows, Kristin Tate, Novak ’19, had just published a new book, “The Liberal Invasion of Red-State America,” the week before the retreat, and the Novak Program arranged with Regnery Publishing to make copies available for all our fellows. The retreat not only widened Fellows’ knowledge, but also deepened friendships and professional connections, as well as connections with TFAS leaders and scholars.

Applications for the 2020-21 Robert Novak Journalism Fellowships will open later this month. For more information, visit TFAS.org/Novak.


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