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Veteran political reporter to deliver talk on Obama administration record so far

October 21, 2009

TIME’s Mark Halperin might be the prototype for a journalist of the future: He pulls together coverage on breaking stories while providing a quick judgment of his own on the Web and on television.

Halperin will bring his influential style of analysis and breakdown of the latest news to campus when he delivers the Ralph O. and Monona H. Nafziger Lecture Wednesday, Nov. 4. Known first for his tipsheet “The Note,” Halperin is now driving TIME’s “The Page.” Billed as “politics up to the minute,” it’s propelled him to must-read status among political junkies and Washington insiders.

The morning that news broke about President Barack Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize, Halperin had broken down the five ways that winning helped and hurt Obama and likened it to a questionable Academy Awards victory.

Under the headline “Why Awarding Obama the Peace Prize is Shocking News,” Halperin noted what Obama’s detractors were likely to say about the prize and concluded, “It isn’t quite as inexplicable as Marisa Tomei’s Best Supporting Actress Oscar, but it seems pretty close.”

Halperin, a veteran national political reporter, will offer his view of the new administration in a free public Nafziger Lecture, titled “The Obama Report Card So Far: What’s Surprising and What’s Next.”

“He represents one of the best examples of the emerging importance of the political analyst, especially in terms of those who can provide deeper political analysis, not the kind of reflexive, knee-jerk punditry that we see from outlets like MSNBC and Fox News,” says Dhavan Shah, Maier-Bascom Professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

A team of journalism students will take a page from Halperin and offer analysis of his remarks on Twitter, as well as produce a streaming video feed that will allow people watching on the Web to ask Halperin questions.

“He’ll appreciate the fact that you can hear his talk, see it streamed, at the same time that there will be people discussing it online in real time,” Shah says. “He understands the value of these different forms of media.”

Halperin has been editor at large and senior political analyst for TIME since April 2007. Before that, he spent 20 years at ABC News, where he covered five presidential elections, as well as national stories including the O.J. Simpson criminal trial and the Oklahoma City bombing. In his decade as the network’s political director, he reported on national developments and planned the network’s television, radio and Internet political coverage.

He wrote “The Undecided Voter’s Guide to the Next President” in 2007 and was co-author of “The Way to Win: Taking the White House in 2008.” He received his bachelor of arts degree from Harvard University.

“Mark is the perfect choice for this lecture on this campus at this point in time,” says Kathleen Bartzen Culver, a journalism and mass communication faculty member and the school’s constituent relations chair. “His work shows the power of adaptability in this new media environment, a trait critical to our journalism curriculum. I’m thrilled our students will be able to participate in the lecture and draw in others in real time.”

Halperin’s talk will be held at 4:30 p.m. in the Alumni Lounge of the Pyle Center, 702 Langdon St. The Nafziger lecture series is sponsored by the UW–Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

The Nafziger Lecture is named for a longtime director of the school and his wife and made possible through the support of alumni, friends and the Nafziger family.