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The New York Times’ Gretchen Morgenson to Speak at W&L

If you do a Google search for the phrase “trenchant and incisive,” five of the top 10 results concern Gretchen Morgenson.

The assistant business and financial editor at The New York Times and author of the weekly “Fair Game” column, Morgenson will speak at Washington and Lee University on Monday, Oct. 26, at 4:30 p.m. in the Stackhouse Theater, Elrod Commons.

“Trenchant and incisive,” that’s the phrase the Pulitzer committee used in its citation when Morgenson won the 2002 Beat Reporting award for coverage of Wall Street; that’s the phrase many believe encapsulates her work at The New York Times. It’s a phrase that may come to mind at her talk at W&L.

Entitled “What I Saw at the Meltdown: A Reporter’s Inside Take on the Biggest Financial Fiasco Since the Great Depression,” Morgenson’s talk is free and open to the public. Afterward, she will have a book signing outside the theater entrance.

Morgenson’s visit is sponsored by Washington and Lee’s Department of Journalism and Mass Communications and The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, which also endows the university’s Reynolds Program in Business Journalism and its Reynolds Chair in Business Journalism.

Morgenson joined the Times business section in 1998 after stops at “Vogue,” “Forbes,” “Worth” and “Money” magazines and side trips as a stockbroker for Dean Witter Reynolds and as press secretary for the presidential election campaign of Steve Forbes.

While at Forbes magazine, her story of anti-investor practices lead to investigations by both the Justice Department and SEC of the Nasdaq stock market. At the Times, she has covered such issues as financial analysts’ conflicts of interest, world financial markets and executive compensation packages. Recent topics amount to a encyclopedia of recession and bailout highlights: Goldman Sachs, AIG, Washington Mutual, Merrill Lynch.

In a July profile in “The Nation” magazine, writer Dean Stockman called Morgenson, “the most important financial journalist of her generation.” What sets her apart from other business writers, said Stockman, “is that she combines (her) blunt writing style with a prodigious fact-gathering ability and an accountability mindset all too rare in the business-press culture. This allows her to go beyond merely reporting and commenting on the public agenda. She helps to set it.”

Morgenson’s most recent book, published this year by HarperCollins, is “The Capitalist’s Bible: The Essential Guide to Free Markets – And Why They Matter to You.” It’s a primer on concepts like supply and demand and globalization. It includes work from some of history’s top economic thinkers. She also is the author of “Forbes Great Minds Of Business,” published by John Wiley & Co., in 1997, and co-author of “The Woman’s Guide to the Stock Market,” published by Harmony Books in 1981.

Morgenson graduated in 1976 from Saint Olaf College, Northfield, Minn., with a degree in English and history.

The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation is a national philanthropic organization founded in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur for whom it is named. Headquartered in Las Vegas, it is one of the largest private foundations in the United States.