The Voices for the Voiceless: Spring Term Circle Talk


Courtesy of Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, two of America’s most celebrated journalists over the past half-century, will visit Groton on April 22nd to deliver the Spring Term Circle Talk. 

Nicholas Kristof, a columnist for The New York Times since 2001, has traveled to over 150 countries, regularly shedding light on human rights violations, health and gender issues, and global poverty. 

Sheryl WuDunn, named one of the 31 most prominent Harvard Business School graduates by Business Insider in 2015, is now a senior managing director at Mid-Market Securities, an investment banking firm. She is one of the few people who has worked as both an executive and journalist at The New York Times. WuDunn was also an editor and foreign correspondent for the Times in Tokyo and Beijing, where she wrote about China’s economic growth, technology in Japan, and Russian oil and gas. 

The incredible work of Wudunn and Kristof certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed. The two of them have published four co-authored best sellers and were Pulitzer Prize winners in international reporting for their coverage of the Tiananmen Square protests. Not only were they the first married couple to win a Pulitzer Prize together, but Sheryl WuDunn was also the first female Asian-American reporter to ever win one. In 2006, Kristof won his second Pulitzer Prize for his journalism on the genocide in Darfur, and judges described his columns as “graphic, deeply reported” and giving “voice to the voiceless in other parts of the world.”

Head of the Speaker’s Committee Ms. Tommy Lamont has taught WuDunn and Kristof’s first book, China Wakes: The Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power, in her Modern China class. Ms. Lamont described it as “sweeping journalism” as it contains extensive interviews that lure out gripping life stories. “WuDunn and Kristof peel away and get to the heart of so many interesting people and their thoughts. You can often learn a lot about the direction of society not just by interviewing the so-called prominent people, the super-wealthy, the super influential, but actually getting there and meeting a lot of people who generally are not heard,” Ms. Lamont commented.

The Spring Term Circle Talk program will be introduced by Trey Whitehead ’21. WuDunn and Kristof will discuss their work, significant accomplishments, the craft of being a good reporter, as well as the state of the United States and the world today. Speaker’s Committee member Naomi-Erin Boateng ’22 and The Circle Voice editor-in-chief Derek Hu ’21 will be the moderators, and the talk will end with a Q&A.

As a part of the Ron Ridenhour lecture series, endowed by a Groton alumnus, this spring’s talk is one which takes place every two to three years. Ron Ridenhour, an army veteran in the Vietnam War and an investigative journalist, transformed public opinion on the Vietnam War in the US. He helped blow the whistle on the mass atrocities in the My Lai massacre, which led to the involved individuals’ indictments and convictions. WuDunn and Kristof are perceptive investigative journalists. Both of them have a knack for harvesting their stories from ordinary people, from whom there is so much to learn from just by listening. 

As a history teacher, historian, and the daughter of a journalist father, Ms. Lamont is saddened by the attitude of Americans towards the press and journalism. She reflected on how journalism is currently under attack in authoritarian states and democracies alike, while it struggles to flourish in the ever-changing technological landscape. “I hope students take away the usefulness of listening and the usefulness of empathy, which is a quality that both WuDunn and Kristof have in spades. I hope that students come away with a respect for journalism,” said Ms. Lamont.