Ellen Clegg on the Neuffer Fellowship

I thought it would be great to have a short background  on Ellen Clegg, who was the editor of the Boston Globe’s opinion page for a long time and worked with many of the previous fellows. I met with her before starting at the Globe and realized recently that it would be good to jot down a couple of tips from her for future fellows.

1) You have mentored IWMF fellows for a long time now. What is your favorite thing about working with the Neuffers?

Neuffer Fellows are invariably courageous journalists with important stories to tell. Often, their work has come at significant personal cost, accompanied by the inherent risk of reporting from conflict zones all over the globe. It’s inspiring to work with them, because they’re truly bearing witness to the unfolding history of the world.

2) In what ways are fellows different – besides coming from different parts of the world?

As women working in journalism – women who came of age in different cultures — they bring their lived experience into their reporting and writing – adding a different voice and an urgent perspective in an era when American news outlets have had to cut back on foreign bureaus.  

3) What makes the Opinion section at the Globe special, and what do you cherish most about your time as editor?

What makes the Opinion section special? The editorial board, and the vital discussions that happened on the board every day. (And because of President Trump’s penchant for tweeting at any hour, these discussions sometimes became a continuing conversation that spilled into evenings and weekends!) Opinions were strongly argued, but in an atmosphere of studied respect.

4) Is there anything you would like to pass on to future fellows at the Opinion section? Topics they should keep an eye out for?

Perhaps it’s my newsroom background peeking through, but I’d advise future fellows to bring all their reportorial skills to their opinion writing: an eye for news, development of sources, and the ability to quickly analyze breaking events. Opinion writing shouldn’t amount to armchair punditry, it should spring from a strong foundation of fact.

5) The goal of this fellowship is to honor the memory and legacy of Elizabeth Neuffer. Many people at the Globe have wonderful things to say about Elizabeth. What would you like to pass on to future fellows about Elizabeth’s legacy and work?

I was one of Elizabeth’s editors when she was in the Globe newsroom, and she was a dear family friend. She was a fearless and driven reporter, whether covering crime in Boston or conflict zones abroad, but she never lost her sense of compassion for the people she was covering. She was also a wonderful mentor for younger women reporters, and made sure they were well-briefed, and safe, when they arrived overseas. I think she very much saw journalism as an avenue to expose human rights abuses and shed light on the dangers of autocratic rule. It’s important to keep that light shining


Una Hajdari is the 2018 Elizabeth Neuffer Fellow.