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William J. Raspberry, Knight Professor of the Practice of Journalism and Public Policy Studies, DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy  

Office Location: 141 Sanford Inst Bldg
Email Address: raspberr@pps.duke.edu

Areas of Expertise

    BS, University of Indianapolis, 1958

    Research Description: Research: The role of policymakers and the press in issues of race, poverty, family, and community.

    Typical Courses Taught:

    Office Hours:
    Monday: 1-3 pm
    Tuesday: 930-noon.

    Curriculum Vitae

    Other Information
    William Raspberry, Knight Professor of the Practice of Journalism and Public Policy Studies at Duke University's Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy, was a columnist for The Washington Post for nearly four decades. He retired from the paper at the end of 2005.

    His commentaries, often on public policy concerns such as education, crime, justice, drug abuse and housing, earned the Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Commentary in 1994. In 2004 Raspberry earned the National Press Club's highest honor, the Fourth Estate Award. The National Association of Black Journalists gave him a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994 and inducted him into its Hall of Fame in 2006.

    “Raspberry's clarity of thought and his insistence on speaking the truth as he sees it - even when others disagree - have kept his column fresh, unpredictable and uncommonly wise," cited NABJ. "His work has won him the respect of readers all over America.”

    His other honors include recognition by Washingtonian magazine in 1997 as one of the top 50 most influential journalists in the national press corps and honorary doctorates from more than two dozen educational institutions.

    Raspberry grew up in the small Mississippi town of Okolona, which he likens to the one in Harper Lee's novel, To Kill a Mockingbird.

    Raspberry followed a preministerial curriculum at Indiana Central College and graduated with a BS in history in 1958.

    His newspaper career began with a summer job at the Indianapolis Recorder in 1956. His duties there as reporter, photographer and editor inspired him to join The Washington Post in 1962, after serving two years in the U.S. Army. At the Post, he was hired as a teletype operator, and quickly advanced to general assignment reporter, copy editor and assistant city editor.

    His coverage of the 1965 Watts riot in Los Angeles earned him the Capital Press Club's “Journalist of the Year” award.

    Raspberry's column first ran in 1966 in the local section of The Post. In 1971, his column was moved to the paper's op-ed page. Syndication by The Washington Post Writers Group began in 1977. At its peak, the column appeared in more than 225 newspapers.

    Raspberry frequently addressed the newest ideas and proposals for answers to social dilemmas: “I don't enjoy celebrating problems. I talk about problems with a view to inching toward solutions,” he says. One reason he retired from journalism was to devote more time to Baby Steps, a parent training and empowerment program he created in his home town of Okolona, He described Baby Steps as “my attempt to help give another generation of young people the thing that worked so well for me—a belief in the magic of education.”

    Raspberry and his wife, Sondra, a teacher at Trinity College, reside in Washington, D.C. They have three children.

    William J. Raspberry