DURHAM, - Philip Bennett, the Eugene C. Patterson Professor of the Practice of Journalism and Public Policy at Duke University, has been named director of the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy at Duke. His two-year appointment will begin July 1.
Bennett joined Duke's Sanford School of Public Policy faculty in 2009 after a four-year stint as managing editor of The Washington Post, during which he helped lead the newspaper to 10 Pulitzer Prizes.
As managing editor of the PBS documentary program "FRONTLINE" for the last two years, Bennett supervised work on more than two dozen films, including the award-winning "Money, Power and Wall Street" series, and "The Choice," an in-depth look at the 2012 presidential candidates.
He will step down from that role in May, while continuing to consult with "FRONTLINE" on a film about the NFL, scheduled for broadcast this fall.
Bennett said he intends to deepen the DeWitt Wallace Center's support for accountability journalism, a research focus defined by Jay Hamilton, the center's current director.
Hamilton is leaving Duke to become the Hearst Professor of Communication at Stanford University. Under Hamilton's direction, the center hired leading journalists as professors of the practice, sought new economic models for news and aimed to create new tools to lower the cost of investigative reporting.
Bennett said academic centers such as the DeWitt Wallace Center can contribute ideas, research and tools to improve journalism at a time when accountability reporting is receding.
"One leading challenge for journalists is to make sense of an expanding universe of available data and to put it in the service of more accurate and thorough reporting and rich storytelling," Bennett said. "Universities can help experiment and create in ways that have become more difficult for the news industry."
Bennett joined The Post in 1997 as deputy national editor, became assistant managing editor for foreign news in 1999, overseeing 20 international bureaus, and rose to managing editor in 2005. From 1984 to 1997 Bennett held a series of positions at The Boston Globe, including Latin America correspondent and Mexico bureau chief, immigration and race reporter, and foreign editor.
"We could not have found a better successor to Jay if we searched the entire country," said Bruce Kuniholm, dean of the Sanford School. "I am absolutely confident that he will sustain the same high standards set by Jay in his leadership of the center."