Former "Guardian" Editor Presenting Ayers Lecture on March 17


Alan Rusbridger, long-time editor of The Guardian, will visit campus March 17. (Peter Macdliarmid/Getty Images)

Alan Rusbridger, a British journalist and former editor-in-chief of The Guardian newspaper, will present Jacksonville State University’s annual Ayers Lecture on March 17 at 1 p.m. on the 11th floor of the Houston Cole Library. Admission is free and open to the public.

From Pulitzer Prize winners to National Public Radio correspondents, Rusbridger is next in a long line of distinguished journalists to present the lecture over the past 28 years. Established in 1988 as a partnership between The Anniston Star and JSU, the lecture is named in honor of Harry M. and Edel Y. Ayers, former publishers of the Star. The event is hosted annually by the JSU Department of Communication as a tribute to the living story of communication in Northeast Alabama.

Rusbridger’s journalism career began at the Cambridge Evening News, where he trained as a reporter before joining staff of The Guardian in 1979. He served as a television critic for the Observer, Washington correspondent for The London Daily News and deputy editor of The Guardian before being named editor-in-chief of The Guardian in 1995. He stepped down in 2015 after 20 years as editor to become chairman of the Scott Trust, which owns both The Guardian and the Observer.

During his tenure as editor, Rusbridger pioneered the creation of The Guardian’s website, which – with more than 100 million site visits a month – is now the second largest newspaper website in the world. He was also responsible for the newspaper’s redesign in 2004. 

The most significant story of Rusbridger’s career came in 2013 when The Guardian broke the story of Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency analyst who leaked classified information on U.S. government surveillance. This coverage – in addition to stories on WikiLeaks, phone-hacking, the Police Federation and other high-profile cases regarding the freedom of information – resulted in Rusbridger’s newsroom winning the Pulitzer Prize for public service in 2014. Rusbridger has been named Editor of the Year three times and has won the Liberty Human Rights Award, the European Press Prize and the Ortega y Gasset award.

Rusbridger was born in present-day Zambia in southern Africa, where his father served as Director of Education. He graduated from Cambridge University with a degree in English in 1976 and holds honorary doctorates from Lincoln, Oslo, Kingston and Roehampton Universities. He currently serves as principal of Lady Margaret Hall at the University of Oxford.

In addition to his academic and professional achievements, Rusbridger has penned three children’s books: “The Coldest Day in the Zoo,” “The Wildest Day at the Zoo” and “The Smelliest Day at the Zoo.” An amateur pianist and clarinetist, he is also an avid supporter of the arts and has chaired both the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and the Photographers' Gallery in London. He writes about the importance of music, self-discipline and balance in his book “Play It Again: An Amateur Against the Impossible.” He also co-wrote the BBC One drama “Fields of Gold” with Ronan Bennett and has written a full-length animation film script and a play about Beethoven.