Pulitzer winner to give speech

Kelsey Neubauer, Staff Writer

Eric Lipton receiving his second Pulitzer Prize. Courtesy of Eric Lipton.

Eric Lipton — a  two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, UVM alumnus and former editor-in-chief of The Vermont Cynic — will be back at UVM next Monday, Sept. 21 to speak to UVM students, faculty, staff and community members in the Grand Maple Ballroom.

Lipton’s talk, “Lobbying in America: White Hats, State Troopers, Ski Resorts and Buckets of Money,” will deconstruct the investigative process behind exposing the corruption involved in lobbying, Lipton said.

“The talk is about lobbying in America — the subterfuge, and the rule-breaking, and the game-playing that goes on by corporations and nonprofits as they try to influence the American political system,” he said.

Specifically, Lipton said he will be discussing three articles that have been published over the past two years involving lobbying.

He will talk about a year’s worth of traveling the United States, where he found senators on ski vacations paid for by lobbyists,  state troopers in South Carolina lobbying for railroad companies and various academics “enlisted,” to lobby for genetically modified foods, he said.

“My year in 2014 began with a plane ride to Park City, Utah, where I found [a] New Hampshire senator on a ski trip paid for by lobbyists,” he said.

“That night, I drove myself out to Vail Mountain,” he said. “I drove up to the Four Seasons to find a whole other group of senators with lobbyists.”

Lipton said his time at UVM prepared him for a career in journalism.

He said he remembers sitting on the third floor of Waterman, where the University archives were located, writing his senior thesis.

Lipton, a philosophy major, struggled to analyze an obscure German concept called protokollsätze for the thesis.

“I had to understand it so I could fight against it, in order to interpret it. I had to understand the philosophical terms and write back at it,” he said, “It was the hardest thing I have ever done.”

This process of “understanding,” and “writing back at it” cultivated his ability to think critically and write well, he said.

“These are skills I use everyday in my career,” he said.

Kaila Carson, a first-year, said she feels it’s important to see how successful a UVM alumnus can be.

“I am really excited to learn more about what he did to achieve such a great feat,” she said. “I can’t wait to hear more about the piece that he won the Pulitzer for and I feel so proud that a UVM alumnus won such a prestigious award.”

First-year Audrey Tuck said she is interested in learning about  how lobbying can be turned into tool for corruption.