The Pursuit of Truth: Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist and LSU Graduate Amy Brittain

June 15, 2023

President Tate and Madeline Fryer


On this episode of “On Par with the President,” LSU alumna and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Amy Brittain joins President William F. Tate IV. Brittain, a Shreveport native, knew she was going to be a journalist since she was 11 years old. She started honing her craft in middle school then majored in mass communication while a student at LSU, where she wrote for the student newspaper, The Reveille. After receiving her Master’s degree in journalism from Columbia, she joined The Washington Post’s investigative team in 2013. In 2016, she was part of a team of Post reporters who were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for chronicling fatal shootings by police officers across the country. In this conversation with President Tate, Brittain shared her passion for journalism and advice for future journalists.  

Full Transcript



[00:00:00] President William F. Tate IV: Welcome to On Par with the President. We are joined today by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and LSU graduate, Amy Brittain. A proud Shreveport native, she has been a part of The Washington Post investigative team since 2013. Glad to have you here. Welcome.

[00:00:19] Amy Brittain: Great to be here. Thank you so much.

[00:00:21] President William F. Tate IV: Well, we're gonna tee off. Couple basic questions to get it going. When did you first become interested in journalism and decide to make that part of your career trajectory?

[00:00:32] Amy Brittain: So I'm one of those annoying people who kind of knew from the time that they were a kid what they wanted to do. And I decided when I was 11 that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Uh, I was lucky enough to go to a middle school in Louisiana that had a newspaper staff, and we were told at the time that we were the only one in the entire state of Louisiana that had a newspaper staff as an elective.

[00:00:59] And I loved to write. I loved creative writing as a very young child and I thought, well, this is a great chance to combine my love for writing. And also, um, uh, a personality quirk that I had that my parents might have found it a little bit annoying, but I was very nosy. I always wanted to know what people were doing, why they were doing it. I wanted to ask questions, and this was a class where I could write and ask people questions and, and that was what I needed to do to make a good, good grade. So it was the perfect skillset for me.

[00:01:30] President William F. Tate IV: Awesome. So you're from Shreveport, north Louisiana. What led you to LSU?

[00:01:35] Amy Brittain: Growing up, uh, my family is a big LSU family. My mom went there, my grandfather went there. Uh, a lot of extended family went there, so I knew that it was definitely kind of on the radar for me. But at the last minute, I was debating between Indiana, where my dad went to college and LSU. And ultimately it was a financial decision for my family. And knowing that I could stay in state, go to a public institution, get that financial support, uh, it was, uh, ultimately the best decision and I'm so glad that I made it.

[00:02:06] President William F. Tate IV: Well, let me ask you. A lot of, a lot of people wonder about the utility of a degree. What did you, what did you learn in your communications classes that you might still use today as an investigative journalist?

[00:02:20] Amy Brittain: Yeah, so the, the Intro, uh, Media Writing class is really kind of a technical class where you're drilling a lot of important skills that you use. You have to memorize the AP style book to learn style differences. I remember I had a professor who was just drilling it in our heads that you know, bussing with two S's, which you often see it misspelled, that type of bussing means kissing someone. So you do not wanna write that whenever you're talking about busing people, right?

[00:02:47] President William F. Tate IV: Right.

[00:02:47] Amy Brittain: So it's those types of like drills that still stick in my head with certain, uh, grammatical mistakes and, and things of that nature. But also when it comes to just the curriculum at the Manship school, I learned so much about ethics, about media law, about how to actually do reporting, to fact check stories. You know, the ethics and the media law classes, uh, those have, uh, lessons that I use nearly every day in my career.

[00:03:13] The challenging thing about journalism is that if you ask 20 people how to report a story, you're probably going to get 20 different answers. It's a field where you can make a lot of different decisions at, at various points in reporting a story. So it's so, so important to always remember, you know, to not do harm to people, to always do the right thing, to protect yourself, to protect the institution. And, and those are values that I learned in, in how to report very difficult stories.

[00:03:40] President William F. Tate IV: Well, you started here at LSU pretty early being, uh, involved with the newspaper, right? You were part of the Reveille Newspaper reporting group. How did that impact you as a student and, and as a reporter?

[00:03:54] Amy Brittain: Oh, it was great. It changed everything for me. You know, being on campus, first of all, it's a great way to learn about the university. The university is essentially a, a community, you know, it, it's a large community. It's, it's larger than some towns in America. So to come in as a freshman and to learn how the university is set up, where the colleges are, who's in charge of the colleges, you know, who's in charge of the veterinary school to try to reach out to people for comment.

[00:04:20] Uh, once again, it kind of gave me that blessing to go be nosy, to ask questions, to figure out how things work. And one of my very first stories involved a story, uh, concerning the chancellor at, at the university at the time. Back then, we had a chancellor, uh, system, uh, a chancellor in place and a system president. So, um, it gave me the chance to be asking difficult questions of him. Um, which, you know, I'm sure that as a president you're probably not fond of student journalists asking you difficult questions, but as a reporter, there's, there's no better, there's no better training than to get in and, and to, to have that type of experience, uh, from the get-go.

[00:05:00] And then I became a sports reporter, which in some ways was even more difficult because you're asking coaches questions that they don't wanna answer. Uh, and, and you're covering the athletic department, which, uh, in many ways functions like a professional sporting team. I mean, that is tremendous experience. It's tough. It's grueling. Uh, there were stories that, uh, left me in tears. There were stories that challenged me and, uh, it, it made me tough. And I, I always realized that if I wanted, if, if I was able to succeed at this job, it was not gonna be easy. You know, I didn't pick this career because it was going to be easy. So to have those difficult experiences as a student certainly set me up for success.

[00:05:40] President William F. Tate IV: That's really great to hear. And, we love our student reporters. I give 'em a hard time, um, every once in a while, and then they, they kick back at me. I, I actually like doing that. Um, because they are tough, you know, and, and you're, you're describing how you become tough. That's powerful for me to hear.

[00:05:58] Amy Brittain: Yeah, I, I mean, I always say student journalists are journalists. You know, there's a amazing student journalist at Stanford University who uncovered, uh, fraud related to, um, academic research of their university president out there. I mean, that's some of the best journalism in the country that's been done this year. Just because you're a student doesn't mean that you're not a full professional journalist. And, um, I love to see that. And, uh, we need more young journalists in this industry.

[00:06:23] President William F. Tate IV: Awesome. So where has your career taken you since you've earned your LSU degree? What's the, what, what happened? How did it all unfold?

[00:06:33] Amy Brittain: Uh, I mean, it's, it's always been journalism for me. You know, I never doubted it. So after I graduated, I went to Columbia for my master's degree and there I went into a specialized investigative reporting program. Uh, before then I kind of wanted to be a sports writer who did investigations, but after I did the Columbia program, I uncovered a really powerful story about police officers and firefighters who were abusing anabolic steroids and human growth hormone. And seeing how that was an abuse of the public trust, it kind of took me into a general investigative reporting path, and I kind of put the sports writing dreams aside and, and followed that path.

[00:07:14] And then I started at the Star Ledger in New Jersey, which was the largest paper in the state of New Jersey. And a couple years after that I, I joined The Post. Uh, and at the time that I joined The Post, I was the youngest investigative reporter that they had ever hired onto the investigative team.

[00:07:30] President William F. Tate IV: That's a journey. Talk, because people sometimes think it's just very smooth and linear, you know, life course and careers. What are some of the challenges you faced at the start of your career? And how have they evolved to the present time?

[00:07:46] Amy Brittain: Oh man. Yeah, I have. I faced a lot of challenges, you know, uh, for better or worse, that can be a little bit hardheaded sometimes, dedicated, stubborn. And as a young reporter, you know, there you have to realize that there are certain strengths that you have, certain weaknesses that you have, and, and you have to rely on your colleagues to produce, uh, the strongest story that you can. I mean, one story that I wrote, that steroid story, after I brought it to the Star Ledger as an investigative project and we were finishing reporting it, there was another veteran reporter who came on to help me report the, report and write the story. Um, and I remember being like a little bit frustrated that in the writing component of it I was, you know, deferring to a more veteran reporter.

[00:08:29] But that's what the paper needed. You know, the paper needed, you know, the strongest reporter to, or writer to help stitch all the reporting together. So you kind of have to learn, um, that there are people who have been in this field who are experts, who you can learn from. You know, that's, that's part of the, the growing pains as a young reporter who, who thought that I could do everything and excel at everything. You have to learn that stories, um, often don't come together. What we do as investigative reporters, I think we probably have the highest level of failure in our industry. And you have to know when you have enough to publish and when you don't have enough to publish. And when you don't have enough to publish and you have to kill a story. That's a a, a devastating reality.

[00:09:11] President William F. Tate IV: Yeah.

[00:09:11] Amy Brittain: But it's just, um, it's just the reality of the business. You know, I often say that my father, uh, is an oil and gas geologist. And growing up he would, uh, have the job of figuring out when to drill. And you have a lot of signs that would be pointing him to a spot where he thought that there would be oil under the ground, right? So all of the metrics are pointing him there. He thinks it's gonna be a success, and then sometimes you drill and there's no oil there. And in his industry, that's called a dry hole.

[00:09:39] In our industry, that's basically a killed story where you start reporting something and you think it's gonna be there, and then it doesn't turn out to be what you think it's going to be. And to be a good investigative reporter, you have to be okay with failure because you never wanna put a story in the paper that's not complete, that's not accurate, that's not thorough. So I've learned to kind of live with that reality, uh, of not always having the perfect story or not always being able to publish what I want to publish.

[00:10:05] President William F. Tate IV: That analogy is quite powerful. Thank you for that. Um, so you are part of The Post's first long-form investigative podcast. What was the transition like from, you know, doing print journalism to doing the podcast world?

[00:10:23] Amy Brittain: Yeah, so it, it's been quite a journey for me. I think whenever I used to describe my job, I would say I'm a print reporter, I'm a newspaper investigative reporter, and now I've come to believe that we shouldn't live in one medium. You know, I, I'm an investigative reporter and I'll tell a story in the best format and the most powerful format that it needs to be in to tell it. And this type of story that I was reporting, it was just, it was made for audio. The voices were so powerful. I could have never written that story in an equally powerful way as it existed in a long form narrative audio format. So for me, the, the biggest thing I learned is just to be quiet and listen. And, and when I say that, I mean that if you're interviewing someone, we have a tendency, and, you know, you probably have a tendency to do it too, if you're talking to someone, to verbally acknowledge what they're saying.

[00:11:18] And typically you say, "Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Yeah. All right." You know, you typically kind of interject to reassure yourself and reassure the person that you're paying attention. And when you listen to that in audio, it's just so grating. It's so, it's so terrible to listen to because you just wanna say, "Shut up, let the person speak," you know, "Let them talk." So I had to learn to be quiet and listen, and I would often nod vigorously. So I would just be shaking my head yes, you know, acknowledging that I'm listening to them, but not saying anything. And when there is silence, sometimes we jump in because we don't wanna let that silence sit there.

[00:11:55] But I've often found that people will say the most meaningful things if, if there's a few seconds of silence, and they will often fill that silence with a profound statement. So it's really changed the way that I report and I ask people questions. It's also changed my writing because when you're making a podcast, you realize that any sentence that is a compound sentence or has a long introductory clause, you have to take multiple breaths. And you realize that it's not a, a good way to make a podcast of constantly having to gasp for breath in the middle of a sentence. So that's normally a sign for me that my sentences are too long and they need to be stripped down, uh, for a subject verb, uh, you know, simple format. Take out the clauses. Take out the compound sentences. Simple writing is the best writing with active verbs. So it kind of gets back to, to the basics in that sense.

[00:12:47] President William F. Tate IV: Do you see how I took a pause?

[00:12:50] Amy Brittain: Are you looking for me to say something profound?

[00:12:52] President William F. Tate IV: No, I, I, you know, as a professor, I would always encourage my students to write, uh, simple sentences with action verbs, stay away from the verb "To be", and it's just far more powerful. It's very difficult to get people to do that because you actually have to think harder. And I'm just so glad you said that. So I'm highlighting it just not only for folks in journalism, but just anybody writing anything in general. Short, action, people gravitate to that. That's powerful. Sounds like you're ready to be a professor now.

[00:13:34] Amy Brittain: You say the word I I could come home.

[00:13:36] President William F. Tate IV: Oh, oh boy. Here we go. I have to be careful what I say, but, but you never know.

[00:13:42] Amy Brittain: One day, I, I would love that. You know, there's nothing that I, um, there's nothing that I love more than teaching a next generation of journalists. And every time that I've come back to LSU and I've gotten to talk to classes, it's much more rewarding to me, I'm sure, than it is useful to them, because you see that passion, you see that, um, you see someone's eyes light up whenever they get it, and I love that aspect of our industry. So I always try to talk to students whenever I have the chance.

[00:14:09] President William F. Tate IV: That's awesome. Well, let's talk about the Pulitzer Prize. That's a big deal. You know, why don't you walk us through how you got to that story and a little bit about how the Prize works.

[00:14:20] Amy Brittain: Right. So that project was a massive undertaking by our newsroom, and I was part of a team of reporters who looked at fatal police shootings across the country. And this project was uh, uh, kind of brought to, into fruition by my colleague Wes Lowery, who had the idea after the Ferguson shooting of Michael Brown to take a look at how common these types of shootings are. And what Wes realized is that there was no way for journalists to definitively say how many police shootings take place in America every year. And police departments didn't even have to report it up to the FBI. It was voluntary for them to report, um, such shootings.

[00:15:05] So what Wes and the team of Washington Post reporters and researchers did was, uh, set out to track every shooting. And we did that mostly through local media reports, compiling those, verifying the information, going back and, and setting up a database. And what made that project really unique, I think, is if that project had been done in the late nineties, early two thousands, I think the Washington Post would've collected a full year of data and then the following year looked at 365 days of shootings and then started to write stories. But this being in the digital age, um, that database was launched to the public in April, uh, you know, of the year in which it was launched. And we were launching stories as the data was coming in about what that data was showing and revealing.

[00:15:57] And in many ways, that's a natural organic process because we're not steering the data in any way that we want it to be. We're learning as the public is learning. And I was assigned a story that's kind of a counterintuitive story is that, you know, the, the, the cases of Michael Brown, the cases of unarmed individuals being shot are, are generally outliers. In, in a year of police shootings in America, the vast majority of these shootings exist with individuals who are armed, who are attacking, uh, members of the public, are attacking police. Um, you know, we unfortunately know that there are so many guns in America. And that is definitely depicted in the data.

[00:16:36] So I went to Wisconsin to report a story about a young trooper who was on his first day of the job whenever he encountered a bank robber. Um, and, uh, the, the trooper ended up shooting the bank robber and the bank robber shot and killed a trooper. So it's one of those cases in which a law enforcement officer died at the same time as an individual who was shot and killed by police. And, you know, just being a part of that project, uh, being a part of something that was so significant in the public's understanding of law enforcement shootings, it's a tremendous opportunity. It's also such a heavy lift with the newsroom and, um, you know, even, you know, claiming to be a part of it. I just wanna be clear that, you know, I, I played a minor role.

[00:17:18] Um, it was such a team effort in putting that project together. And, and the, The Washington Post has the ability to do those types of big projects and that is really, um, the joy and thrill of working at a place like The Post where you can tackle issues that are so large.

[00:17:34] President William F. Tate IV: And then the prize came about, obviously that must be a secret society of folks who are voting on who wins the prize? Is that how the Pulitzer's awarded?

[00:17:45] Amy Brittain: You know, I've never been a juror, but it's actually, so it's secret leading up to it. But afterwards, the names of the jurors are publicized so you realize, you know, who was on the jury, uh, in different categories. And when I went to Columbia, that was a big deal, you know, Pulitzer week because all these journalists would come in and you would get a chance to maybe meet some of them, um, or, or hear about, um, kind of the work that they've done. And it is a secretive process. And, um, it's a huge honor. At the same time, I, you know, in my career I try not to be focused on outcomes.

[00:18:21] I was talking to a young reporter who's interning on our team the other day, and, uh, we were talking a little bit about income, um, sorry, impact and what happens after our story's published. And I say, you know, "One thing that I always make clear to sources, to people who are participating in a story is that I cannot predict the future." There are stories that I thought would have a tremendous amount of change. Nothing happened. And there are other stories, you know, that resulted in laws being changed and significant overhaul and reform. Um, so I never tried to steer an outcome one way or the other. Our only fidelity is to the truth and uncovering the truth.

[00:18:59] And, you know, after that, what happens is out of our hands. And, you know, it's a beautiful, intriguing part of this industry is that you just never know what will connect with the public, what will lead to change. And, and sometimes it's, it's, it's quite a joy and thrill to see things, um, connect that you maybe didn't think would have an impact. But it can also be disappointing on the other side of things, if you think that things will resonate and they don't, or people miss a story for whatever reason. And I had a great professor who, who taught me once that, you know, this industry's kind of like a marathon race, and you got, you can't get too high or too low. You've gotta try to keep like the steady pace, um, through a career if you want to have a long and successful career.

[00:19:43] President William F. Tate IV: Well, I've found as a professor there's always an article or story that you tell that you're most proud of, but oftentimes it doesn't resonate the most with people. Do you have one like that?

[00:19:56] Amy Brittain: Oh, man. I mean, looking, you know, in our industry and looking at the work that I've done, I'm always drawn to stories that, um, give a reader or a listener a sense of something to think about after they're done reading the story. You know, I really don't like stories that exist in black and white. I like stories that exist kind of in the gray zone of, of challenging people to think about why they feel a certain way or, or what they're used to. And, um, I would say it was really, uh, the subject of the podcast that I did. You know, it's a story that is about sexual assault. It's about, um, an extremely difficult case in Washington DC. And it's ultimately about the decision that someone makes about whether it's worth coming forward to tell their story or not.

[00:20:43] And, uh, as a reporter who's covered sexual assault and misconduct and harassment, I've often thought about what people go through whenever they're deciding to come forward and speak out about something. And I've always thought that if people could hear that process or understand that process, they wouldn't be so quick to judge someone's motivation. You know, I had a story about, um, the, the legendary television journalist, Charlie Rose, being responsible for, uh, decades of sexual harassment and misconduct. And I remember my voicemail just kind of being filled with, um, some defenders of him saying, you know, why are these women speaking out now? What do they have to gain?

[00:21:24] Why are they trying to ruin his career? And I thought, oh, if these people could just hear what these women went through in the process of deciding to put their names in a story like this. I mean, it was just gut wrenching, kept them up at night. It was a full family decision for many of them. And the, the beautiful thing about the, the podcast is that we were able to record some conversations that I had with individuals who were making similar decisions. And I've never had as many people reach out to me to say that they were touched or moved or understood something more than I've had since the podcast came out. I mean, it's been out for three years and, and people are still reaching out to me to, to convey that. So that to me, um, is, is probably the story that I'm most proud of.

[00:22:12] President William F. Tate IV: You've displayed a tremendous passion for journalism and anybody listening probably gets that you love it, but help us understand what journalism means to you, and what would you tell a perspective journalist? What advice would you give them based upon what it means to you?

[00:22:34] Amy Brittain: Yeah, I mean, journalism means everything to me. I think it's a core part of my identity, and it's not just a job to me. You know, it, it really is a lifelong passion of uncovering facts and trying to get as close to the truth as possible. And sometimes you don't get there, or sometimes you're missing one piece, uh, that, that you think that you need to get there. And that pursuit is ongoing. Uh, and it's, it's what keeps me coming back to work every day. You know, when I was a kid, I loved Nancy Drew mystery novels. That was my big thing is I would read them and I would watch Nancy kind of put together the pieces of figuring out why something happened. And in many ways, we're trying to put together the, the pieces to figure out why something happened. That kind of drives us to do what we do.

[00:23:22] And the people that I work with, the people in our newsroom, the people in our industry who I meet at conferences, they share that passion. And when you see how hard people are working to make sure that information is accurate, to make sure that it reaches public view, to uncover facts that have been buried and hidden, and you know, pushed away for years, it really reaffirms, uh, that we have tremendously talented journalists in this country. And we are also blessed to work in a country where we have the protection under the First Amendment to do this type of work. Because you look at our colleagues around the world and, and countries who do not have that right, and you see what can happen whenever, um, citizens of countries don't have visibility into how their government is functioning and what's being hidden away from them.

[00:24:09] So, that is why I do what I do. And to young journalists who are considering the field, I say, "Come join us" you know, "We have a lot to learn from you." Uh, there's an entire initiative at The Washington Post right now to figure out how to get younger readers, um, you know, connected to our work. And to kind of, rather than trying to bring them to The Washington Post, um, you know, go to the spaces where they are, go to the forums, go to the platforms where they are, and bring our journalism there. So I would say it's one of the best jobs in the world. Is it tough? Yes. But as I remind myself constantly, I did not choose this job because it was easy. If it's difficult. That's good. You know, it's good to work on something that's difficult. Otherwise, if it's easy, it's not gonna be fulfilling, it's not gonna be rewarding. I've never worked on an easy story that was rewarding for me.

[00:24:59] President William F. Tate IV: So what moment confirmed for you, you made the right decision to be a journalist?

[00:25:04] Amy Brittain: Uh, so when I was in grad school, I was working on this difficult story, this investigation about steroids and law enforcement, and I went to knock on someone's door who I believed had very valuable information for this story. And I knocked on her door and I explained who I was and what I was working on, and I asked if she would be willing to talk to me. And she invited me inside her home and sat down and talked with me. And, uh, that moment for someone who's not a journalist, they might be like, well, why is that significant? I mean, for me it's everything because it's someone who, uh, trusted me in that moment and, you know, believed what I was telling them, that their information was important and could play a piece in exposing some information to the public.

[00:25:55] And it was such an adrenaline rush to, to do what we call, "Door knocking," uh, to, to go to someone and to ask them to help bring this story to light. And that's when I thought, "Oh man, this is, this is fun. This is really, really fun. Uh, this is what I wanna do forever."

[00:26:15] President William F. Tate IV: Well, you mentioned fun. I've got a few fun questions.

[00:26:18] Amy Brittain: Okay.

[00:26:19] President William F. Tate IV: Favorite memory or experience from your time at LSU?

[00:26:24] Amy Brittain: Uh, man, there's, there are so many. Uh, I have to say, I'm gonna get in trouble if, probably if I don't say this, but I met my, my future husband at LSU. So we met, uh, in the Quad under a very large oak tree that's, that's near Dodson Fountain. And we met at an honors ceremony, uh, when he was a sophomore for biological sciences, and I was a freshman for Mass Comm. And he said, I actually like to be, to be clear, I don't really exactly remember this conversation.

[00:26:54] But, but he said he, he said he came up to me and complimented me on a series of stories that I'd done in the Reveille, which was a big scandal at the time about student government leaders buying Blackberry phones for themselves using student fees to pay for these very, very expensive phones at the time. So that was a big scandal. It was known as Blackberry Gate. It was the scandal of the day, uh, at, at the Reveille. And he came up to compliment me on the coverage and we became friends and, and now we're married.

[00:27:23] President William F. Tate IV: Let me ask you one last question. You were recently inducted into the LSU Alumni Association Hall of Distinction as Young Alumna of the Year. What does that recognition mean to you?

[00:27:35] Amy Brittain: I mean, I was floored when they called to tell me that, that I was selected. First of all, it's just great that someone is still calling me young. That, that was really, that was really exciting. But in, in all seriousness, uh, It's beyond anything I ever could have imagined. You know, I went into LSU just wanting to be a good reporter and to figure out how to be a journalist. And I'll never forget the day that I moved out of, of campus. My senior year I was getting ready to go to, uh, an internship to cover the Padres for in San Diego. And my mom came down to help me move out of my apartment.

[00:28:14] And as we were driving off campus, I said, "Can we just, can we just take one more drive around?" So we drove around and there were just tears streaming down my face going by the journalism school, just thinking about how four years passed that quickly and how much my life had changed. And, uh, LSU will always be such a special place to me. It's kind of made me who I am. And every time I go back there, you know, you kind of feel, I don't know what you feel, something like a flutter in your heart or something as corny as that sounds. But it just takes me back to that time in my life where you're young and impressionable, and what I did there changed everything for me.

[00:28:55] I mean, it opened up so many doors and it helped me be confident and helped me learn how to be the best version of myself that I can be. So for someone to recognize me and to say that, you know that, that I've done an okay job so far as an LSU alumna, uh, it's really great. And it's also a lot of responsibility because, you know, I don't wanna let them down in the rest of my career. It's a vote of confidence for me as a young person, and I wanna make sure, you know, that I, uh, keep working just as hard and, and hopefully, um, do a lot more stories that, that need to be done and, and bring a lot more facts to the light that need to be exposed. So, that's why I do what I do.

[00:29:35] President William F. Tate IV: Well, it's a well deserved honor. During this conversation, three words emerged from you that I think are foundational to the university and its purpose. Um, you talked about the pursuit of truth. Um, you, you talked about the need to display courage, and you also talked about operating with an empathetic perspective. And truth, courage, and empathy are the foundational principles of a university and most certainly the foundational principles of an outstanding journalist.

[00:30:13] And so it's just, uh, with great pride, if I may have it, that you know, that you matriculated here and have gone off to do wonderful things on important topics. And, um, you represent the very best of, uh, the scholarly tradition, um, that's unfolded here at LSU over the years. So thank you for taking the time to talk to me and excited to learn and read more about your work. And of course, the future investigative, uh, reporting that you will do, uh, will be top of mind for me. So thank you so much.