Stephen EngelbergThe University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication welcomes 2016 Ruhl Lecturer Stephen Engelberg, editor-in-chief of ProPublica, a nonprofit newsroom that strives to use the moral force of investigative journalism to expose abuses of power and spur reform.

Engelberg, who founded the investigative unit at The New York Times and served as managing editor of The Oregonian, will discuss how accountability has changed in journalism in the digital age. His work has won two George Polk Awards for reporting, and two projects he supervised won the Pulitzer Prize. He is also the co-author of “Germs: Biological Weapons and America’s Secret War.”

“The question of how we finance the journalism we need as a society remains open,” Engelberg says. “The old model has been irretrievably smashed, and the new model remains very much a work in progress. The typical Internet reader still expects to get great writing and reporting for free, a viewpoint whose implications can be glimpsed in the continuing layoffs and cutbacks in the legacy media.”

Engelberg’s lecture will address journalism’s protected status under the Constitution and why changing the way it is funded could affect the fabric of our democracy. “Philanthropy has provided some answers, but the pace of giving is nowhere near enough to deliver the watchdog journalism envisaged by our Founding Fathers,” he says. “They saw watchdog reporting as essential to our democracy, and that’s why journalism is the only enterprise specifically protected by the Constitution. These issues are important for all students of journalism, and indeed for anyone who wants to see our major institutions held accountable for their actions and decisions.”

The 2016 Ruhl Lecture, titled “Accountability Journalism in the Digital Age,” will take place Feb. 18, 4-6 p.m., in the Gerlinger Hall Alumni Lounge on the University of Oregon campus. The event is open to the public, but because seating is limited, please RSVP by Thursday, Feb. 11.

About the Ruhl Lecture: The Robert and Mabel Ruhl Endowment, which has supported an annual Ruhl Lecture since 1974, was established by Mabel W. Ruhl to foster mutually beneficial contact between the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication and the mass media. It honors her late husband, Pulitzer Prize-winner Robert W. Ruhl, who was editor and publisher of the Medford Mail Tribune.

Story by Andra Brichacek