2011 Cathryn Anne Hansen Buesseler Lectureship
Tod Robberson, who graduated from Texas Tech University’s College of Media & Communication in 1981 with a bachelor’s degree in print journalism, is a 2010 Pulitzer Prize winner who now works at the Dallas Morning News.
After several award-winning semesters at Texas Tech, he accepted an internship with a Saudi Arabian publishing company and spent a summer in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, as the sports and economy editor of Arab News, an English-language newspaper.
After graduating, Robberson moved to Washington, D.C., where he was on the startup staff of the Washington Business Journal. He later formed a news service with one of the toughest women in journalism, Sarah McClendon. That led to part-time and then full-time employment as an editor on the foreign, business and metro desks of The Washington Post.
In 1983, shortly after accepting a full-time position as an editor at The Post, Robberson received a call from his longtime friends at Arab News, who asked if he would consider moving to Beirut to start an English-language newspaper there. The country was in the middle of a raging civil war. He accepted the job on condition that The Post agreed to allow him to return if things did not work out in Beirut.
The job in Beirut led to a reporting position with the Reuters news agency. The Reuters job led to Robberson’s brief kidnapping and mock execution on Beirut’s Green Line. Reuters then moved Robberson to Cyprus, where he became a roving correspondent covering Syria and the Iran-Iraq war.
In 1986, Reuters promoted Robberson to be its bureau chief in El Salvador. While he was doing interviews in guerrilla-held territory, the Salvadoran army invaded and captured him in the middle of a house-to-house firefight. Shortly after that, Georgetown University offered Robberson a fellowship, and he returned to Washington, D.C., to work on his master’s degree in Arab Studies. While finishing his master’s degree, Robberson returned to The Washington Post as an assistant foreign editor.
In 1990, The Post sent Robberson to Iraq, where he remained until executive editor Benjamin Bradlee decided to pull him out – one day before the first bombs fell on Baghdad in the first Gulf War. From 1992 to 1996, Robberson was The Post’s bureau chief in Mexico City. In 1997, The Dallas Morning News lured Robberson away with a job covering all of Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as the Middle East. He lived in Bogotá, Colombia, with his wife and daughter, before moving to Panama City, Panama.
In 2003, The Morning News made Robberson its Europe bureau chief, based in London. He continues to cover the Middle East intensively. He has made numerous, month-long trips to Afghanistan and more than a dozen trips to Iraq. He speaks fluent Spanish, and he speaks, reads and writes Arabic.