145 Holmes Hall

Walter V. Robinson

Distinguished Professor

Walter V. Robinson, who became Distinguished Professor of Journalism at Northeastern University in January, 2007, spent more than 30 years at the Boston Globe, where he specialized in political and investigative stories, as both reporter and editor.

From 2000 through 2006, Robinson was assistant managing editor for investigations, and editor of the newspaper’s investigative unit, the Spotlight Team.

Since he came to Northeastern, Professor Robinson’s students have been providing the Globe with a regular diet of page one investigative stories.

Starting in the mid-1970s, Robinson covered politics and government for the Globe for nearly two decades. He was chief of Globe bureaus at both Boston City Hall and the Massachusetts State House. He spent seven years in the Globe Washington Bureau, where he covered the White House under Presidents Reagan and the first President Bush. He also covered four presidential elections — 1984, 1988, 1992 and 2000. In 1990 and 1991, he was the Globe’s Middle East Bureau Chief during the first Persian Gulf War.

Robinson returned home to Boston in 1992 to be the Globe’s city editor. A year later, he was named assistant managing editor for local news, a position he held for three years. In 1997 and 1998, Robinson was the paper’s roving national and foreign correspondent, and spent most of that time reporting about artworks that had been looted by the Nazis during World War II and never returned to their rightful owners; and about the extensive looting — for profit — of archaeological sites.

During his Globe career, Robinson reported stories from 48 of the 50 states and more than 30 foreign countries.

In 2002, Robinson and his Spotlight Team unearthed the clergy sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. For their work, the Globe won several investigative reporting prizes, as well as the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2003.

In 2007, his Globe investigative team was named a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize for a series on abusive debt collection practices that was published just before he joined the Northeastern faculty.

Robinson, a native of Melrose, is a 1963 graduate of Boston College High School, and a 1974 graduate of Northeastern University. He was a Northeastern junior when he won his first investigative reporting award for the Boston Globe, for police misconduct he unearthed while he was a reporter on coop. Earlier, he interrupted his Northeastern education to spend four years in the US Army, including a tour in Vietnam as an intelligence officer with the First Cavalry Division.

In 1981–82, Robinson was a journalism fellow at Stanford University. In 2002, Emerson College in Boston awarded him an honorary doctorate. In 2005, Northeastern University awarded him an honorary Doctorate in Journalism.

Robinson is the co-author of  the 2002 book, “Betrayal: The Crisis in the Catholic Church.’’

Since April, 2007, Northeastern graduate and undergraduate students in his Investigative Reporting seminars have had numerous front page investigative stories published in the Boston Globe. Robinson is also director of a center at the university, the New England First Amendment Center. And in July, 2010, with financial support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, Professor Robinson started the Initiative for Investigative Reporting in the School of Journalism, which has formed partnerships with community news organizations to help them do investigative and watchdog reporting.