Over Protests, Giles Appointed Nieman Curator

Powerful media supporters back president's choice

Ending a ten-month search, President Neil L. Rudenstine named former Detroit News editor Robert H. Giles curator of Harvard's Nieman Foundation on Tuesday. Giles will assume the duties of curator the week of August 14.

Giles and Rudenstine met in Mass. Hall last Wednesday, for what a media executive with a strong interest in the appointment characterized as a "full discussion" of his candidacy. According to the source, the meeting was wide-ranging and touched on the role Giles played in an acrimonious Detroit newspaper strike, the issue that prompted his former employees to lobby Mass. Hall against him and delay an appointment for three weeks.

But at the end of the meeting Rudenstine gave a "strong...unqualified reaffirmation of support" for Giles, the executive said.


Giles was hours away from being named curator in late June, before protests about his handling of the Detroit strike and his long association with Gannett, a giant media conglomerate that some accuse of dumbing down the news, reached Mass. Hall.

The appointment was put on hold until Rudenstine returned from vacation in Europe last week and could deal with the matter personally, Giles says. In the end it was the president who made the call.

"It was Rudenstine's decision all along," said a close Giles associate. "He always said it was going to be his and I think it was."

According to sources close to the Nieman Foundation, Rudenstine did not convene a formal search committee to assist him in the Nieman search, but consulted with a more loosely constructed group of faculty that did not interview the candidates.

Sources say that those who lobbied Mass. Hall on Giles's behalf included many of the heaviest hitters in American journalism.

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