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Beth Sorensen
Office of Communications


Forbes senior editor Adam Penenberg '86 to speak

Reed College's 91st commencement ceremonies will be held at 11 a.m. on Monday, May 17, under the tent on Reed's south lawn. This year approximately 260 graduates will receive bachelor's degrees, and 4 will receive master of arts in liberal studies degrees.

The commencement speaker will be Adam Penenberg, a 1986 Reed graduate who writes about technology and the internet as senior editor of Forbes magazine. Penenberg gained national notoriety in 1998 when he was the first to expose a fraudulent story about hacker crime in The New Republic. (See biographical notes below.) If you d like to send reporters or camera crews, or if you d like to interview Penenberg, please call Nadine Fiedler at 503/777-7590 or send email to

An accomplished jazz musician, Adam Penenberg considered a career as a musician before finally settling on life as a writer. He enrolled in NYU as a jazz studies major, but transferred to Reed College in 1984, intent on getting a thorough liberal arts education. Upon graduating with a B.A. in economics (his thesis was on rural-urban migration in lesser-developed countries) he was awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, which enabled him to travel to India and Japan in search of indigenous music to combine with jazz. Penenberg eventually settled in Tokyo for a year and half, where he taught English by day and played music at night, working with some of the country's top jazz musicians. For the next two years, Penenberg indulged his wanderlust and traveled across Europe and Asia by train, plane, car, and bike. He visited some 50 countries on his journey.

In mid-1990 Penenberg returned to New York and published his first freelance piece in the New York Times living section. For the next six and a half years, Penenberg worked as a freelance writer for a number of publications, including the New York Times Sunday Long Island and Sunday book review sections, as well as Wired, Playboy, Mother Jones, Glamour, and World Art. Work as an environmental reporter took him to Mexico and Cuba. In late 1996 he jumped aboard Wired magazine's newly launched daily news web site as a reporter and in May 1997 took a job with Forbes Digital Tool, Forbes magazine's web site.

In May 1998, Penenberg, then e-commerce editor at Forbes Digital Tool, was the first to debunk a story in The New Republic written by then-associate editor Stephen Glass. The following September Penenberg was promoted to senior editor at Forbes magazine, where he was hired to write features about technology--hackers, cybercrime, internet business models--as well as a weekly column for Forbes Digital Tool. His first story for Forbes was an exclusive, inside look at the hackers who took over the New York Times web site last September.