About Jeffrey Brodsky

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Jeff Brodsky

Jeffrey Brodsky (1974-2023) was a journalist, oral historian and graduate of the Oral History Master of Arts program at Columbia University. Born and raised in New Hampshire, he was the son of Howard and Kathy Brodsky. Howard Brodsky is co-founder and chairman of CCA Global Partners. Kathy Brodsky, with whom Jeff shared a birthday, is a children's book author, poet, and clinical social worker.

Brodsky showed an early interest in journalism during high school, where he was co-editor-in-chief of the award-winning Manchester High School Central newspaper, The Little Green. Under his tenure as editor, the student paper made several changes: a shift to a broadsheet-style paper, updated typeface and design, the addition of color photography, and they made the newspaper free for everyone. Circulation jumped roughly 800%. During this time, Brodsky interviewed all nine candidates for the 1992 presidential election, including former President Bill Clinton.

Brodsky was also involved in a censorship scandal with the school after the newspaper published a controversial editorial regarding the lack of transparency of student elections. The principal halted all newspaper activities, and Brodsky gave an interview to the New Hampshire Union Leader about the shutdown. This led to front-page coverage of the situation, as well as Brodsky testifying in front of the New Hampshire House of Representatives Judiciary Committee about press rights for students. The newspaper was reopened following consistent stories in the Union Leader on the issue. Brodsky was profiled in the Freedom Forum’s 1995 book about high school journalism, "Death by Cheeseburger" about his involvement. See Series I: Personal Materials for press clippings about this incident.

Brodsky also pursued other journalistic pursuits while in high school. He hosted a weekly radio show with his frequent collaborator Misbah Tahir (also his co-editor at the student paper) called Spotlight. See Series II: Spotlight for audio files of episodes. Jeff held several internships at news outlets, including the Chicago Sun-Times, CNN, USA Today, and the State News Service. He was the first high school student the Sun-Times ever hired to cover the White House. He was also the first high school intern selected by CNN for their Investigative Reporting Unit in Washington, D.C. At USA Today he interned in their Special Projects Department at the States News Service he covered congressional delegations for U.S. newspapers.

At 18, Brodsky founded the National Scholastic Surveys, a polling and research firm dedicated to gathering the opinions of high school and college students. He was interviewed on C-SPAN and on CNN about his polling work. See Series I: Personal Materials for press clippings about this work.

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Columbia University graduation, 2012

Brodsky earned a bachelor's degree in political science from Washington University in St. Louis. After graduation he worked as an independent journalist, often for red carpet, political, or business events. His work has been published in the Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, USA Today, Bloomberg News and the Wall Street Journal. He also made appearances on CNN, C-Span, and National Public Radio. See Series III: Professional Works for materials related to this work.

He was known for asking insightful, unexpected questions and an uncanny ability to secure interviews with notable subjects. Even when not attached to a major news organization, he would often go to extremes to conduct an interview with major politicians and leaders. Brodsky once asked then-President Bill Clinton for an interview during mass at church. While initially shocked, the president agreed after listening to a timely sermon about forgiveness. All of his work was built on a foundation of deep research, which served him well as he moved into oral history.

In 2008, Brodsky was admitted into the first cohort of the Oral History Master's program (OHMA) at Columbia University, an interdisciplinary degree program training students in oral history methodology and theory. For his thesis, titled "My First Campaign," Brodsky interviewed dozens of current and former politicians about their very first political campaign. All materials related to "My First Campaign" can be found in Series IV, Subseries 4: My First Campaign. Before settling on his thesis topic, he toyed with other ideas, including interviewing White House correspondents about their work. Some interviews were conducted on this topic, and can be found in Series IV, Subseries 3: White House Correspondents.

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Jeff with his father, Howard Brodsky

In 2015, the Brodsky family established the Jeffrey H. Brodsky Oral History Award at Columbia. The award is given to "one or more students annually whose thesis makes an important contribution to knowledge and most exemplifies the rigor, creativity, and ethical integrity that OHMA teaches its students." In 2018, Brodsky and his father Howard created The Brodsky Prize, a college scholarship for New Hampshire high school students to encourage out-of-the-box thinking and innovation by a new generation of student journalists. Both prizes reflect Brodsky's own personal ethics while supporting the next generation of journalists and oral historians.

At 36, while a student at Columbia, Brodsky was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, a progressive disorder that affects the nervous system. He died on July 26, 2023. He was 49 years old.