We are proud to continue our tradition of public conversations and lectures in the name of legendary investigative journalist and Hunter alumnus Jack Newfield (’60), illuminating his enduring relevance and influence. To do so, Roosevelt House is additionally proud to welcome esteemed New York Times reporter, columnist, and author Dan Barry. He will be in conversation with veteran newspaperman Michael Daly about the new Library of America anthology edited by Barry: Jimmy Breslin: Essential Writings.  

Across a career spanning six decades, from the Kennedy assassination to 9/11, Jimmy Breslin was widely considered the greatest newspaper columnist of his era. The 72 columns selected for this book by Dan Barry, more than half of which have not been reprinted since initial publication, reveal Breslin at his best, addressing stories of national and global importance but more often uncovering tales of ordinary New Yorkers.

By turns tragic or absurd, but always gripping to read, the highlights selected for this volume include: his celebrated interview with the man who dug the grave for John F. Kennedy; his coverage of the assassination of Malcolm X; his dispatches from the South at the height of the Civil Rights movement and from Vietnam during the war; accounts of his involvement with the “Son of Sam” case in 1977; his story about John Lennon’s murder in 1980; his award-winning series about the AIDS crisis in 1986; and his critical glimpse of Donald Trump tricking the press corps during a book promotion tour in 1990.

Brash, cantankerous, and often funny, Breslin was an indefatigable master of deadline writing. His columns were events, attracting millions of readers, winning the admiration of other journalists, and bringing Breslin, in 1986, the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. As quintessentially New York as the memorable urban characters he portrayed, Breslin emerged as a major national voice, one whose understanding of American life—its political scandals, its Mafia subculture, its mistreatment of immigrants and other vulnerable people—continues to resonate.

Dan Barry, editor, is a reporter and columnist for the New York Times. He is the author of This Land: America, Lost and Found, a collection of his “This Land” columns; Bottom of the 33rd: Hope and Redemption in Baseball’s Longest Game, which received the PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing; The Boys in the Bunkhouse: Servitude and Salvation in the Heartland; City Lights, a collection of his “About New York” columns; and Pull Me Up: A Memoir. Since joining The Timesin 1995, Barry has covered major events including the World Trade Center catastrophe, Hurricane Katrina, and the coronavirus pandemic. He has been nominated as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize twice: once in 2006 for his slice-of-life reports from hurricane-battered New Orleans, and again in 2010 for his coverage of the Great Recession. His other honors include the inaugural Pete Hamill Award for Journalistic Excellence (2021); the Best American Newspaper Narrative Award (2015); the Meyer “Mike” Berger Award from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism (2005); and the American Society of Newspaper Editors Award for deadline reporting (2003). Previously, as a member of the The Providence Journal investigative team, he shared a George Polk Award (1992) and a Pulitzer Prize (1994).

Michael Daly is a special correspondent with The Daily Beast. He was previously a staff writer with New York magazine and a columnist with the Daily News, where he worked alongside Jimmy Breslin. He was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2002 and has received numerous awards. He is the author of Under Ground; The Book of Mychal: The Surprising Life and Heroic Death of Father Mychal JudgeTopsy: The Startling Story of the Crooked-Tailed Elephant, P. T. Barnum, and the American Wizard, Thomas Edison; and, most recently, New York’s Finest: Stories of the NYPD and the Hero Cops Who Saved the City.

Jimmy Breslin (1928–2017) was born and raised in Queens. He began his long newspaper career as a sportswriter for the Long Island Press. He went on to write regularly as a columnist for the New York Herald-Tribune, the Daily News (two stints), and Newsday. Breslin’s many awards included the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary, a George Polk Memorial Award, and an American Society of Newspaper Editors Award.

This program is made possible through the generosity of  the family and friends of Jack Newfield

Jack Newfield

The Roosevelt House Newfield lecture series is named for the late Village Voice columnist and social reformer Jack Newfield ’60 (1938-2004), whose career as a muckraking journalist spanned 40 years (highlighted by 700 columns for the Village Voice).  His fearless crusades earned him a reputation as one of New York’s—and the nation’s—most relentless investigative reporters and most influential commentators.

The father of a new kind of probing journalism, Newfield famously said in his 2002 autobiography, Somebody’s Gotta Tell It: The Upbeat Memoir of a Working-Class Journalist: “The point is not to confuse objectivity with truth.” Honoring that mission for his entire career, Newfield also wrote memorably for the New York Postthe Daily NewsNew York SunNew York Magazine, and The Nation. Among the honors he received were the George Polk Journalism Award for political reporting in 1980 and a 1991 Emmy for the HBO documentary, Don King: Unauthorized.

In 2006, a Newfield Visiting Professorship was established at Hunter College in his honor. Newfield Fellows have included the late Wayne Barrett, Tom Robbins, Charles Stuart, Errol Louis, Alyssa Katz, Barbara Nevins Taylor, Jarrett Murphy, and Andrea Bernstein.

Beginning in 2018, the fellowship transitioned from a teaching program to a Roosevelt House lecture series with an emphasis on the values and issues that engaged Jack Newfield. In addition to Maggie Haberman (2018 and 2023), lecturers have included author and screenwriter Nick Pileggi (2019).

The 2024 Jack Newfield Lecture — Dan Barry — Jimmy Breslin: Essential Writings | Posted on March 28th, 2024 | Book Discussions, Public Programs