JMC Remembers Distinguished Alumnus, Innovator in Data Journalism

Investigative journalist David Donald, who earned his master’s degree from Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication (JMC) in 1997, died Dec. 10, 2016 at the age of 64 after a yearlong battle with cancer.

Donald was an innovator in computer assisted reporting, “whose command of large data sets helped propel stories about the underreporting of sex assaults on college campuses, the 2008 financial crisis and bill-padding among Medicare providers,” according to an obituary published in the Washington Post.

His work didn’t just win awards; it prompted change.

As a staff member at the Center for Public Integrity from 2008-2014, Donald’s 21-month investigation into the abuse of the government-run Medicare system earned him the Philip Meyer Award, one of journalism’s highest honors for data-driven reporting, and prompted action by the Justice Department and the Department of Health and Human Services.

And, in 2009, he was part of the team from the Center for Public Integrity and NPR that investigated sexual assault on college campuses. The investigation uncovered dozens of unreported rapes on campuses that had only reported zero or one incidents per year. He earned a Peabody Award, and soon after the reporting, Vice President Joe Biden announced new guidelines for colleges to prevent and respond to campus sexual assaults.

Before his time at the Center for Public Integrity, he was training director at the Missouri-based Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) organization. And most recently, he was affiliated with American University’s Investigative Reporting Workshop.

Barbara Hipsman-Springer, Kent State emeritus associate professor, taught Donald during his time in JMC and described him as “the gentle soul who made you think you were actually ‘getting it’ that day.”

He visited Kent State often, she said, and was committed to protecting democracy through numbers.



POSTED: Wednesday, December 14, 2016 - 4:52pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, December 14, 2016 - 4:52pm