Ann Devroy

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Ann Devroy
Devroy.jpg
Born Ann Mary Devroy
(1948-10-09)9 October 1948
Green Bay, Wisconsin
Died 23 October 1997(1997-10-23) (aged 49)
Washington, D.C.
Education B.A., Journalism, 1970
University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire
Occupation Political journalist
Spouse(s) Mark Matthews
Children Sarah Matthews

Ann Devroy (/ˈdɛvrɔɪ/, DEV-roy; October 9, 1948 – October 23, 1997) was an American political journalist. She was a White House correspondent for 15 years, for the Gannett Company and USA Today (1979–1985) and for The Washington Post (1989–1997). She covered four presidents — Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton — and 10 White House chiefs of staff.[1] David S. Broder, regarded the dean of the Washington, D.C., press corps, called Devroy "the most dogged, determined, complete reporter any of us ever saw."[2] At the 2013 Miami Book Fair International, Dan Balz, a colleague of Devroy at the Washington Post, called Devroy "perhaps the best White House reporter in the modern history of White House coverage. … she was a tenacious vacuum cleaner of a reporter who gave fits to every administration she covered."[3]

Life and career[edit]

Ann Mary Devroy was born October 9, 1948, in Green Bay, Wisconsin. While she was a journalism student at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire, she interned at the Milwaukee Journal and worked as a reporter for the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram. After she received her bachelor's degree in 1970 Devroy began working for the Courier News, a New Jersey newspaper owned by the Gannett Company. In 1977 she moved to Gannett's Washington bureau. She covered Congress for two years before becoming White House correspondent for Gannett and its new national newspaper, USA Today.

"When USA Today was just beginning and had no news hole, Ann was the most relentless, detailed reporter of all of us," said Andrea Mitchell of NBC News. "She forced the White House to take her seriously, even when her paper was a joke."[4]

In 1985 Devroy joined The Washington Post as political editor on the national news desk — a job that would allow her to spend more time with her young daughter.[2] As deputy national editor, Devroy directed coverage of the 1988 Presidential campaign.[5] In 1989 she returned to the White House beat. Andrew Rosenthal of The New York Times, who was Devroy's main competition, described her as "the scariest and most generous reporter I've ever known. She would kick your butt 24 hours a day."[1]

She was also a prolific reporter. "464. 322. 335. 315. 263. 300. 309. These are the annual numbers of stories carrying Ann Devroy's byline that appeared in The Post from 1989 through 1995," said managing editor Robert Kaiser. "464 bylines in one 365-day year? How was that possible?"[6]

Devroy was not part of the Washington TV punditocracy.[7] "In some ways, she was a throwback to the days when print reporters ruled journalism," wrote David Broder. "She scorned TV punditry and refused repeated entreaties to join the press panels and perform for the cameras."[2] Devroy made a rare television appearance as Tim Russert's guest on his CNBC show March 28, 1994.[8]

In a September 1993 profile of the White House press corps, Vanity Fair magazine named "three current contenders for the job of the pit bull in chief" — Andrea Mitchell of NBC, Brit Hume, and "at the Post, the tough-talking, heavy-smoking Devroy."

The other bane of the communications office is Ann Devroy of The Washington Post, "a Vesuvius of a reporter," as one colleague calls her. At 44, Devroy is the only certified giant killer in residence, having accelerated if not caused the demise of John Sununu though her pursuit of his travel scandal. "You're a liar! Your stories are all lies! Everything you write is a lie!," Bush's ornery chief of staff once shouted at her after a crowded Rose Garden ceremony.[9][10]

"When I was in the Bush White House," said former speechwriter and media affairs assistant Tony Snow, "there was an old joke: The five most feared words in Washington were Ann Devroy on line one."[11]

"Ann Devroy was the toughest and fairest White House reporter I knew,” said George Stephanopoulos, senior adviser to President Clinton in his first term. "She knew when she had a story, and she knew when to kill one. She revered the office of the presidency and the role that reporters play in keeping it honest."[12]

In May 1994 Devroy received a journalism award from the Gerald R. Ford Foundation, for distinguished reporting on the presidency. She received the foundation's seventh annual prize for her articles on President Clinton's foreign policy and his effort to sell his domestic program, Vice President Al Gore's record and an evaluation of former president George H. W. Bush.[13][14]

Devroy died from cancer October 23, 1997, at age 49. President Bill Clinton issued a statement that day on learning of her death: "For more than a decade, no journalist dominated and defined the White House beat with the kind of skill, shrewd analysis and gruff grace that Ann brought to her reporting."[15]

Brit Hume spoke of Devroy's death on the October 26, 1997, broadcast of Fox News Sunday. "I worked with her at the White House, and she was so much better than all the rest of us that it was almost embarrassing. I mean, there was nobody could touch her. She was, quite simply, in the era that I covered the White House for eight years, so far and away the best reporter in the place that there was no use even talking — it is a real loss."[11]

Legacy[edit]

After Ann Devroy's death The Washington Post created a journalism fellowship at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire, awarded in her name each spring.[16] Featured speakers at the Ann Devroy Memorial Forum are listed below.[17]

"Her reputation was one of fairness and accuracy, a gift for straight and impartial news reporting, and a tenacious pursuit of information," wrote Martha J. Kumar in the Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics. "Both in interest and in style, Ann Devroy was ideally suited to the White House beat. Devroy not only had the persistence required to strip the bark off the White House publicity tree, but she also possessed an avid interest in understanding the institution she covered, including the rhythms of its operations over time. … Ann Devroy established a lasting standard of how the White House should be covered."[20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Smith, J. Y., "Ann Devroy Dies; Covered White House for Post." The Washington Post, October 4, 1997
  2. ^ a b c Broder, David S., "The Core of the Press Corps; Ann Devroy Fiercely Embraced a Tough Job." The Washington Post, October 24, 1997
  3. ^ C-SPAN2, BookTV, 2013 Miami Book Festival International, November 24, 2013, "Dan Balz; George Packer; Jeremy Scahill". Approximately 76 mins. See ~42:00 to ~42:30.
  4. ^ Broder, David S., "The Core of the Press Corps; Ann Devroy Fiercely Embraced a Tough Job." The Washington Post, October 24, 1997
  5. ^ McCaslin, John, The Washington Times, October 24, 1997
  6. ^ Kaiser, Robert G., remarks at Ann Devroy's memorial service November 1, 1997; reprinted in the pamphlet Ann Devroy of The Washington Post: Colleagues Remember a Woman and Her Work, page 41
  7. ^ Shepard, Alicia C., "The Pundit Explosion." American Journalism Review, September 1995
  8. ^ March 28, 1994, episode information, Tim Russert, CNBC
  9. ^ Weisberg, Jacob, "The White House Beast". Vanity Fair, September 1993. On the July 2, 1991, edition of his CNN talk show, Larry King asked Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee if he had any misgivings about the newspaper's reporting on John Sununu's frequent use of government aircraft for personal travel. "None. Ann Devroy broke it," Bradlee replied.
  10. ^ Sununu resigned from his position in December 1991, two weeks after he confronted Devroy in the White House Rose Garden. "After resigning in Mississippi, Mr. Sununu found that Mrs. Devroy was the pool reporter he had to talk to on Air Force One during the long flight home," reported John McCaslin of The Washington Times (October 24, 1997).
  11. ^ a b Fox News Network transcript, Fox News Sunday, October 26, 1997
  12. ^ George Stephanopoulos Pledges $25,000 to UW-Eau Claire Foundation's Devroy Fund, University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire News Bureau, May 10, 2004
  13. ^ Past Journalism Prize Recipients, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation (retrieved January 1, 2012)
  14. ^ "Two Post Reporters Win Ford Journalism Awards; Presidential, Pentagon Coverage Cited". The Washington Post, May 7, 1994. Barton Gellman received the award for distinguished reporting on national defense.
  15. ^ Clinton, William J., "Statement on the Death of Ann Devroy" October 23, 1997. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project at the University of California, Santa Barbara
  16. ^ History of the Forum, Ann Devroy Memorial Forum, University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire
  17. ^ Presentations, Ann Devroy Memorial Forum, University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire
  18. ^ "Columnist Ruth Marcus to speak at 16th annual Devroy Forum". News Bureau, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, April 2, 2013. Retrieved 2014-02-20. 
  19. ^ "Washington Post's Scott Wilson to replace Al Kamen as April 17 Devroy Forum speaker". News Bureau, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, April 15, 2014. Retrieved 2014-04-16. 
  20. ^ Kumar, Martha J. "Ann Devroy, the Washington Post: 1948-1997." The Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics, Vol. 3 No. 2 (March 1998), pp. 131–134

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