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Iowa political reporter, best-selling business writer to visit

March 10, 2008 By Dennis Chaptman

A political writer who provided wall-to-wall coverage of the yearlong campaigns leading up to the Iowa presidential caucuses and the author of a book detailing Wal-Mart’s pervasive effect on society will visit the University of Wisconsin–Madison as writers in residence.

Thomas Beaumont, chief political reporter for the Des Moines Register, will speak to journalism, political science and public affairs classes during the week of March 24 as the Public Affairs Writer in Residence.

A UW–Madison graduate, Beaumont’s coverage often led the national outlets on stories such as close-up examinations of Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy positions, Mike Huckabee’s grassroots support and the enthusiasm gap between Republicans and Democrats.

He was also the lead writer on the Register’s Iowa Poll, which was the first poll to show Barack Obama leading in the closing days of the campaign, foreshadowing a groundswell of support among independents and first-time caucus-goers. He appeared frequently as an analyst for CNN, C-SPAN, MSNBS, Fox News and other networks.

Charles Fishman, author of "The Wal-Mart Effect" and senior editor at Fast Company magazine, will meet with business and journalism students during the week of April 6 as Business Writer in Residence.

"The Wal-Mart Effect" made the best-seller lists of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek. The book details how the retail giant shapes where consumers shop, the products they buy and the prices they pay. It also probes how Wal-Mart affects the lives of almost every American every day and how it has changed the economic life of the towns and cities where it does business.

Fishman has spent 20 years trying to get inside, understand and explain important organizations, from NASA to Wal-Mart. Fishman was the first reporter ever permitted inside a Tupperware factory and he was the first reporter in 30 years allowed inside the nation’s only bomb factory.

The Writer in Residence program is a popular way for students to interact with nationally known journalism professionals in formal and informal settings during their visits.

The Writer in Residence Program is sponsored by the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and University Communications, with support from the UW Foundation. The public affairs program is co-sponsored by the La Follette School of Public Affairs and the business program is co-sponsored by the School of Business.