Geneva Overholser


Geneva Overholser is an independent journalist. She is also a Senior Fellow at the Annenberg Center for Communication Leadership and Policy and at the Democracy Fund. She served as the director of USC Annenberg's School of Journalism from 2008 until 2013 and, prior to that, held the Curtis B. Hurley Chair in Public Affairs Reporting for the Missouri School of Journalism, where she was based in the school’s Washington bureau.

She was editor of The Des Moines Register from 1988 to 1995, where she led the paper to a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. While at the Register, she also earned recognition as Editor of the Year by the National Press Foundation and was named “The Best in the Business” by American Journalism Review.

She has been ombudsman of The Washington Post, a member of the editorial board of The New York Times, a syndicated columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group, and a reporter for the Colorado Springs Sun. She has been a columnist for the Columbia Journalism Review and frequent contributor to She also spent five years overseas, working and writing in Paris and Kinshasa.

Through the Annenberg Public Policy Center, in 2006 she published a manifesto on the future of journalism titled On Behalf of Journalism: A Manifesto for Change. She is also co-editor, with Kathleen Hall Jamieson, of the volume “The Press,” part of the Oxford University Press Institutions of American Democracy series.

She serves on the boards of the Center for Public Integrity, the Committee of Concerned Journalists, the John S. Knight Fellowships at Stanford University, the Fund for Independence in Journalism and the Academy of American Poets, the Rita Allen Foundation and on the Journalism Advisory Committee of the Knight Foundation. She was for nine years a member of the Pulitzer Prize Board, the final year as chair, and is a former officer of the American Society of Newspaper Editors.

Overholser holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and a bachelor’s degree in history from Wellesley College. She is married to David Westphal, who was Washington editor for McClatchy Newspapers and now is Editor-in-Chief of the California HealthCare Foundation. They have three children.

Overholser is also a contributor to Online Journalism Review, hosted by the Knight Digital Media Center, a partnership of USC Annenberg and the Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.

Follow her on Twitter @genevaoh