December 10, 2018

Event Coverage Highlight

Remembering Kim Wall

Tom Wall, the brother of Kim Wall, speaking at a memorial service on Wednesday. Photo: Bruce Gilbert/Courtesy of the Columbia University School of Journalism.

By Patricia Kranz

Friends, family, and teachers remembered Kim Wall at a memorial service at the Columbia Journalism School on the evening of Oct. 11. Those giving tribute to Kim, who graduated from the journalism school in 2013, focused on her love of journalism and her eclectic body of work rather than on her horrific death.

“Kim was inventive and persistent as a child,” said her mother, Ingrid Wall. “For Kim there were no boundaries.” Ingrid explained that both she and her husband are journalists in Sweden, and said Kim went on reporting trips with them when she was young. Ingrid remembered how Kim, while still an adolescent, wrote an article for a local newspaper, saying: “I want to know how the world works.”

That curiosity and hunger for experience took her to from Sweden to several countries including Sri Lanka, China, Uganda, Haiti and the United States. “She was a magical presence,” said Nina Berman, a photojournalism professor at Columbia. “She was fiercely smart, but had a childlike curiosity and sense of wonder.”

Lonnie Isabel, a senior lecturer at the journalism school, said he met with Kim in late June when she told him she had decided to move to China this fall. “She told me how Donald Trump had ruined the lives of freelancers because editors don’t want stories about anything else.”

Wall was a member of the OPC and reported from the Marshall Islands in 2015 with fellow OPC members Hendrik Hinzel and Coleen Jose on the leaking Runit Dome that houses radioactive waste.

At the memorial, seven of Kim’s friends read excerpts from her work.

Kim disappeared after meeting Peter Madson, a submarine builder, for an interview and a trip on his homemade submarine on Aug. 10. Her torso was later found on a beach near Copenhagen. Madsen has been charged with manslaughter, which in Danish law is the equivalent of murder.

Kim’s brother Tom said she loved Muji pens, using them to take notes and write stories. “Armed with nothing but her wits, a notepad and a Japanese gel ballpoint pen, she gave a voice to those who had something to say,” said Tom.

Columbia is accepting gifts to establish a scholarship named for Kim. Gifts may be made online at journalism.givenow.columbia.edu or by mailing a check to Brandon Glosser, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, 2950 Broadway, New York, NY 10027 and putting “Kim Wall Scholarship” in the memo field.

Click here to read more about her life and work >>

Click here to read about the Kim Wall Memorial Fund >>