AMES, Iowa -- Vanity Fair contributing editor Bethany McLean, who co-wrote "The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron," will speak at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8 in the Memorial Union Sun Room at Iowa State University. Her talk, "Following the Money: From Enron to Hedge Funds," is the 2009 Chamberlin Lecture. It is free and open to the public.
McLean was with Fortune from 1995 to 2008, first as a reporter and later as an editor-at-large. She covered a variety of topics, with stories ranging from Barry Diller and his controversial company InterActive Corp. to the strange world of the Masters of Wine.
Michael Bugeja, director of the Greenlee School of Journalism and Mass Communication, says the difference between the public knowing in advance about the collapse of Enron and not knowing about the recent collapse of the banking system, until it occurred, can be summed up in one word: McLean.
"Bethany is a writer with tremendous skills, and she combines that with fearlessness, research and critical thinking," Bugeja said.
"Investigative skills and character traits are more important now than ever," he said. "Anyone interested in accountable journalism should attend this lecture and learn, as I will, from one of the best journalists of our era."
In March 2001, McLean wrote an article that raised questions about the immense profitability of Enron, then a darling of the stock market. Her article, "Is Enron Overpriced?" was the first in a major publication to openly question the company's dealings. With Fortune colleague Peter Elkind she wrote the book, "The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron," which chronicles Enron's dishonest finances and the corporate culture that enabled them. In 2005, the book was developed into a documentary.
McLean graduated from Williams College with a double major in math and English. She worked as an investment banking analyst at Goldman Sachs until joining Fortune.
The lecture is cosponsored by the Chamberlin Lecture Fund, the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, the Iowa Newspaper Foundation, the Iowa State Daily, and the Committee on Lectures, which is funded by the Government of the Student Body.
Additional information is available online at (http://www.lectures.iastate.edu/).