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10/09/91

CONTACT: Stanford University News Service (415) 723-2558

Pulitzer Prize-winning editor to deliver Knight lecture

STANFORD -- The editor whose newspaper won a 1991 Pulitzer Prize for leading a nationwide examination of the way the news media covers rape cases will speak at Stanford University on Tuesday, Oct. 29.

Geneva Overholser, editor of the Des Moines Register, will deliver the fourth annual John S. Knight Distinguished Lecture, sponsored by the Knight Fellowships for professional journalists.

Her talk, entitled "What You Don't Know Will Hurt You: The Press and Public's Know-Nothing Pact," is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in Kresge Auditorium (Law School) and is open to the public free of charge.

The Register was awarded the Pulitzer gold medal for public service for a series of articles that raised the question of whether rape victims should be named in news stories.

After Overholser had written a column challenging the media's traditional refusal to use names, arguing that the crime of rape needed to be demystified and the stigma removed from its victims, an Iowa woman came to her and offered to tell her story. The subsequent stories by reporter Jane Schorer described the rape and the victim's reactions and experiences with the legal system, touching off a nationwide debate on the issue.

A graduate of Wellesley College and Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, Overholser joined the Des Moines Register in 1981 as an editorial writer. After a one-year Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University in 1985, she joined the New York Times as an editorial writer. She returned to the Register in 1988 as editor.

Overholser is a director of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, is a member of the Pulitzer Prize Board, and was named the Gannett Co.'s "Editor of the Year" in 1990.

The Knight Lecture series, funded by the Knight Foundation, has previously featured Washington Post political writer David Broder, author Taylor Branch, and CNN correspondent Peter Arnett.

The Knight Fellowships program brings 12 U.S. and six international journalists to Stanford each year for sabbatical study. The director is communication Prof. James Risser, the deputy director is James Bettinger.

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