Pulitzer Prize-Winning Columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr. to Appear at FSW

Feb 15, 2017

FEBRUARY 15, 2017 – FORT MYERS, FLA – Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Leonard Pitts, Jr. will highlight a “Journalism as Activism” panel discussion at 2 p.m., on Thursday, March 2, in Building J, Room 103 (Rush Auditorium), at the Florida SouthWestern State College (FSW) Thomas Edison Campus, 8099 College Parkway, Fort Myers.

The panel will also include local journalists Melanie Payne of The News-Press and Chris Cifatte of WINK News, who will discuss journalism’s impact on society and how it stimulates change. The event is free and open to the public.

Pitts is an award-winning journalist whose columns appear in newspapers around the country. He has written a series of critically-acclaimed books, including his latest novel, Grant Park. Among his many awards, Pitts is a three-time recipient of the National Association of Black Journalists’ Award of Excellence, a five-time recipient of the Atlantic City Press Club’s National Headliners Award and a seven-time recipient of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Green Eyeshade Award. In 2004, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary.

Payne investigates scams, corruption and bad deals, providing advice on consumer issues every Sunday, Wednesday and Friday in The News-Press. She is active in the community, volunteering for various community groups and tutoring at-risk youth and young adults. Also, she is a member of the professional organization, Investigative Reporters and Editors.

Cifatte has anchored the WINK evening news since 2002. Previously, he worked at WYFF-TV in Greenville, S.C., WMDT-TV in Salisbury, Md., and as a management and financial consultant in Los Angeles. In 2002, Cifatte received an Emmy award for coverage of Dale Earnhardt’s death, along with various other awards through the years for investigative coverage. He was awarded Lee County’s Big Brother of the Year in 2006.

“Leonard Pitts, Jr. has used his influence to promote progressive societal reform, and Melanie Payne and Chris Cifatte have made an impact within our local community,” said Dr. Amy Trogan, FSW English professor. “Our students and the community will be inspired by our guests, who have used their voices to stimulate societal change.”

“Journalism as Activism” is presented by FSW Writes, a FSW faculty group that plans writing events for FSW students, employees and the public. It is sponsored in part by the FSW Foundation. For more information, contact Dr. Trogan at (239) 433-6930.


Florida SouthWestern State College is Southwest Florida’s largest and one of the most affordable institutions of higher education. Annually serving nearly 22,000 students globally, FSW offers a variety of nationally-ranked, career-focused academic programs with two- and four-year degrees, and professional certifications. Students are also active in clubs and programs catered to their interests. FSW debuted its intercollegiate athletics program in January 2016. Visit www.FSW.edu for more information.