Chilean Journalist Wins Award to Lecture and Research at Barnard College of Columbia University

Alejandra Matus, a Chilean journalist and academic, has been awarded the 2018 Weiss Fellowship for Visiting International Scholars, which was established to support visits by international critics and scholars to Barnard College of Columbia University in New York. Between September 30 and October 10 Matus will deliver a public lecture and lead a workshop for students on the  role of women in media, the relationship between governments and the press, and the causes and consequences of “fake news”. In addition, she will working with professor of history Nara Milanich on shared research. 

June 30, 2018

Matus is an award-winning and internationally-recognized Chilean journalist and writer. She first became known by the controversy surrounding her first book, “El Libro Negro de la Justicia Chilena” (The Black Book of Chilean Justice). Published in 1999,  it exposed the deep roots of corruption in Chile’s judicial system and how judges had closely collaborated with the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. One day after its release, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court ordered the confiscation of all copies, and Matus herself was threatened with imprisonment. Even though the dictatorship had ended nine years earlier, the book faced censorship laws still in place from that period. Forced to flee Chile, she was granted political asylum in the United States. Today her experience is featured in the Newseum, a museum in Washington DC devoted to promoting   freedom of the press.

Matus went on to become a prolific, wide-ranging, and influential investigative journalist. She won the Ortega y Gasset Prize, a major award for  Spanish-speaking journalists, and also received  Harvard’s Neiman Fellowship in 2010.

She is the author of multiple books, including one on freedom of speech in Chile (“Injusticia Duradera”, 2001); an unauthorized biography of the wife of Pinochet (“Doña Lucía”, 2013), which was the best-selling book in Chile in 2014 and is now in its eleventh edition; and, most recently, an investigation of Chile’s private pension system (“Mitos y Verdades de las AFP”, 2017). She is also co-author of several books on human rights. Currently, Matus is on the faculty of the School of Journalism at the University of Diego Portales (UDP) in Santiago, where she teaches and lectures on the media, power, and society, as well as on writing chronicles and profiles.