Concerned that the media has become more government lapdog than watchdog, Michael Ratner ’66 made a gift to establish a full-tuition scholarship for a Brandeis student interested in pursuing a career as an investigative journalist.
The scholarship recipient will work closely with The Brandeis Institute for Investigative Journalism, which was established in 2004 to help revitalize the practice of investigative journalism. The Institute helps teach students about investigative reporting and its importance in serving as a check on government power.
“My view is that investigative journalism plays a major role in a democratic society,” said Ratner, a leading human rights litigator and the president of the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York. “Investigative journalists uncover the stories that protect us from government excesses and illegalities.”
From recent work by Jane Mayer (extraordinary rendition) and Seymour Hersh (Abu Ghraib) to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s stories on Watergate in the 1970s, investigative journalists have brought to light important government policies that might otherwise have escaped the public’s notice, according to Ratner.
“It’s unimaginable where we would be without investigative journalism,” Ratner said. “I think Brandeis is the perfect place to train the next generation of investigative journalists.”
“We are so grateful that Michael Ratner, who has spent his life fighting injustice and governmental wrongdoing, has chosen to support Brandeis students committed to the type of investigative journalism that is so crucial to a healthy democracy,” said Florence Graves, director of The Brandeis Institute for Investigative Journalism.
Ratner received a 2006 Brandeis Alumni Achievement Award for his work on behalf of those denied their human rights around the world. He won a landmark case involving Guantanamo Bay detainees before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Ratner and his family have been longtime supporters of Brandeis. His cousin Ronald ’69, a Brandeis Trustee, and his wife established the Max and Betty Ratner Scholarship in honor of his parents, and have also made generous gifts to The Village residential complex and the Annual Fund.