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FEATURED ALUMNI: Kevin Kellems, IPJ 1986

Recipient of the 2006 Alumni Achievement Award

Kellems speaking to students at the
State Department.

Kellems accepts the 2006 from
Andrea Huels (E 86) and Roger
Ream (E 76).

The Fund for American Studies’ Institute on Political Journalism is a program that teaches aspiring journalists about free-market economics and journalism ethics.

Since attending IPJ in 1986, Kevin Kellems has witnessed some of recent history’s more dramatic events and met some of its most influential leaders. His various journalistic jobs, such as communications director for Vice President Dick Cheney, have made this possible.
While at the Pentagon on the morning of September 11th, Kellems saw firsthand what he describes as the “heroism of those who responded so effectively to that tragedy.” He was also present at the inauguration of Hamid Karzai, the election of whom signaled the end of the Taliban’s reign in Afghanistan.
On one trip to Baghdad, Kellems experienced an early morning rocket attack which resulted in the death of one soldier and the wounding of a dozen more. When he later visited the victims in the hospital, they pleaded to “not let this slow you downÉwe believe in what you are trying to do for the Iraqi people.”   

Kellems stood face-to-face with Shia children chanting, “Salam Bush, down with Saddam,” during a visit to an impoverished village in the southern part of the Iraq, which had bourn the brunt of Saddam’s harsh rule.  
Kellems’ journey from IPJ intern at the New York Times’ Washington Bureau to the present day has been filled with remarkable accomplishments, all of which explain why he was selected by the TFAS Alumni Council to receive the 2006 Alumni Achievement Award.  
His acceptance remarks at the Leadership Network Conference held this year in Charleston focused on how politics and journalism have changed in the past two decades, as well as his hopes for the future.  
“Journalism is both much better and much worse: technological advances have provided many more choices—a veritable explosion of outlets to choose from,” he said.  “More outlets mean more competition and greater consumer choice.”

Kellems continued, “Ébut the cancer of modern journalism has spread: outright opinion journalism parades as straight news reporting, not even with the fig leaf of being labeled as ‘news analysis’.”

Identifying The Fund for American Studies as the “single most effective career development catalyst” for himself and others, he called for the expansion of both IPJ and The Fund as a whole.

He believed this would contribute to a much needed “renaissance in American journalism, in which there is a focus on ethics, history, constitutional awareness, and familiarity with market economics”.

“This is precisely what IPJ teaches,” Kellems asserts, “the founders clearly got the mission right.”


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