Vice President Biden to Deliver Keynote at Toner Prize Celebration in Washington, D.C.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden L’68 will be the keynote speaker at the award celebration for the Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting on March 24 in Washington, D.C.
The Toner Prize, sponsored by the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, honors the life and work of the late Robin Toner ’76, the first woman to be national political correspondent for The New York Times. Toner and Biden are both alumni of Syracuse University.
“It is a special pleasure to have the vice president as our speaker—one outstanding alumnus honoring another,” says Newhouse Dean Lorraine Branham. Toner was an alumna of the Newhouse School, which administers the Toner Prize. “It’s testimony to Robin’s professionalism to have Vice President Biden help celebrate the type of excellent political reporting that she exemplified.”
This is the fourth year the Toner Prize has been awarded, following a national competition. The prize carries a $5,000 award. This year’s winner will be announced in March. Past winners were Craig Harris of The Arizona Republic, Jane Mayer of The New Yorker and Molly Ball of The Atlantic.
Biden graduated from Syracuse University’s College of Law in 1968. He launched his career in public service two years later as a member of the New Castle (Delaware) County Council. As running mate for then-Sen. Barack Obama, Biden was elected vice president in 2008 after a 36-year career as a U.S. Senator from Delaware. Biden was elected to the U.S. Senate at the age of 29, making him one of the youngest candidates elected to the chamber.
In the Senate, Biden was chairman or ranking member of the Judiciary Committee for 17 years and played a leading role in crafting the 1994 Crime Bill and the Violence Against Women Act. He also was a longtime member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
Biden and Toner’s paths crossed often as Toner reported on his Senate career, starting in the mid-1980s, and later during his bids for the presidency. In a New York Times piece in August 1986, Toner described Biden as having “emerged as an aggressive presence on the Washington stage.”
Toner was a summa cum laude graduate of Syracuse with dual degrees in journalism and political science. She started her journalism career with the Charleston Daily Mail in West Virginia and reported for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution before arriving at The Times in 1985. She was married to former journalist Peter Gosselin and was the mother of twins Nora and Jacob, now 16.
In her nearly 25 years with The Times, she covered five presidential campaigns, scores of congressional and gubernatorial races and most of the country’s major political and policy issues. Toner’s work was distinguished by her expertise and insight, by her meticulous fact-checking and accuracy and by her elegant writing.
The late Senator Edward M. Kennedy described Toner as “a reporter’s reporter who deeply cared about the people and the issues she covered.”
Toner died in December 2008. Her family, friends and classmates have created the Robin Toner Program in Political Reporting to honor her life and work through Syracuse University and the Newhouse School.
For more information, contact Charlotte Grimes at 315-443-2366 or firstname.lastname@example.org.