Pulitzer Prize winner Daniel Golden visits AIC


Amber Ollari and Mary Ellen Lowney

What percentage of college or universities are engaged in recruiting spies? Daniel Golden has the answer.

The Department of Communication and Cultural Affairs Committee were kind enough to invite investigative journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Daniel Golden, to speak to future journalists and those interested in the field.

Daniel Golden, author of Spy Schools: How the CIA, FBI and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America’s Universities, came to AIC on Thursday, April 12, to discuss his book and his experiences in the investigative journalism field.

Golden grew up in Amherst, Massachusetts, and worked for the Springfield Daily News, which is now The Republican. He is also a recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, which he won in 2004 while working at the Wall Street Journal.

He has also worked for the Boston Globe, Bloomberg News, and is currently a senior editor for ProPublica.

Golden gave an insightful lecture into the making of his book. He talked about how international students come over to get their degree, but some are enlisted to help their countries gain recruits for clandestine operations or have access to U.S. government plans and sensitive military research.

In Prof. Patrick Johnson’s Editorial and Opinion Writing class, Golden used two stories that he worked on while at the Wall Street Journal to illustrate his interviewing, researching and writing experiences.

The first was for a story about how the children of wealthy alumni and donors manage to get their children into prestigious colleges and universities at far higher rates than the general population. One of those donors happened to be Charles Kushner, real estate tycoon and the father of the now-well known Jared Kushner, son-in-law of and chief advisor to President Donald Trump.

That story became a series of stories, then a book called The Price of Admission: How America’s Ruling Class Buys Its Way into Elite Colleges – And Who Gets Left Outside the Gates. As it turned out, both Jared and his brother Joshua went to Harvard University after their father donated $2.5 million, and neither were stellar students in high school, as documented in Golden’s book.

That work won him the Pulitzer in 2004 for beat reporting. It also helped boost Golden’s public reputation, particularly when Trump won the Republican nomination and then, the presidency.

The other told the story of young, successful but undocumented immigrants who were unable to attend college because they do not qualify for financial aid. He interviewed Monique Silva, a young, deaf, Brazilian immigrant from Cape Cod who despite stellar grades, couldn’t afford to attend Gallaudet University, the country’s premiere higher learning institution for the hearing impaired.

When Golden’s story was published, WSJ readers donated more than enough money for her to attend Gallaudet.

Golden’s lesson: “Both of those stories got their power because they were told through a particular person. Readers are emotionally touched – it got to them.

“There are two parts to a story – the systemic issue and the narrative. The systemic issue tells the big picture, and the narrative is a compelling story about how it impacts a person, or people. You need the narrative spine to grip people,” Golden said.

Golden delivered a great lecture to both students and staff. He provided excellent information on his career and the challenges that came with it.

Don’t forget to check out Golden’s new book, Spy Schools: How the CIA, FBI and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America’s Universities.