Who We Are

Geneva Overholser Public Affairs Reporting for the Missouri School of Journalism

Geneva Overholser holds the Curtis B. Hurley Chair in Public Affairs Reporting for the Missouri School of Journalism, in its Washington, D.C., bureau. She is a frequent print, broadcast and online media critic. With Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Overholser co-edited the book The Press as an Institution of Democracy. Her manifesto on the future of journalism can be found on The Annenberg Public Policy Center web site (PDF: On Behalf of Journalism: A Manifesto for Change).

Overholser was editor of The Des Moines Register from 1988 to 1995. She also has been a syndicated columnist for the Washington Post Writers Group, an editorial board member of The New York Times, ombudsman of The Washington Post, editorial writer and deputy editorial page editor of The Des Moines Register and a reporter for the Colorado Springs Sun. Additionally, Overholser wrote a blog for the Poynter Institute Web site and a regular column for the Columbia Journalism Review. She spent five years overseas, working and writing in Paris, France, and Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Overholser was named "Editor of the Year" by the National Press Foundation and "Best in the Business" by the American Journalism Review. Under her leadership, the Des Moines Register won the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for public service for a series on the rape of an Iowa woman, using her name and photographs. In 2002, Overholser received the Anvil of Freedom Award from the Estlow International Center for Journalism and New Media at the University of Denver.

Overholser holds a bachelor's degree in history from Wellesley College, a master's in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and a French language certificate from the University of Paris. She has received honorary doctorates from Grinnell College and St. Andrews Presbyterian College, as well as alumnae achievement awards from Wellesley, Northwestern and Medill.

For her leadership and contributions to the industry, Overholser has been named a fellow of both the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She also has served as a Nieman Fellow at Harvard and a Congressional Fellow with the American Political Science Association.Overholser chairs the board of the Center for Public Integrity in addition to serving as a board member for the John S. Knight Fellowships at Stanford, the Committee of Concerned Journalists, the Fund for Independence in Journalism and the Academy of American Poets. She serves on the Journalism Advisory Committee of the Knight Foundation and the advisory council of the Women's Media Foundation. For nine years, Overholser was a member of the Pulitzer Prize Board, serving the final year as chair. She is a former officer of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and former trustee of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Overholser is married to David Westphal, McClatchy Newspapers' Washington editor. They have three children: Laura, Nell and Paul.