Pulitzers Abound for Reporting on the Defenseless

  • 3 African Americans Win for Arts and Letters
  • New Editor of British Vogue Is Male and Black
  • 13 Who Died Waiting for Their Day in Court
  • Racial Difference in Car Insurance Doesn’t Add Up
  • AP Intern Died Tragically, but He’s Inspiring Others
  • Arrested Jan. 20, They Still Don’t Have Their Phones
  • Fox Hires Outside Firm to Investigate O’Reilly
  • Here’s Why They Choose to Work in Public Media
  • Short Takes
At the Daily News in New York, Sarah Ryley celebrates receiving a Pulitzer Prize with, from left, Head of News Robert Moore, former editor-in-chief Jim Rich and Editor-In-Chief Arthur Browne. (Jefferson Siegel/Daily News)

3 African Americans Win for Arts and Letters

The Daily News in New York and the investigative website ProPublica won the Pulitzer Prize for public service Monday for “uncovering, primarily through the work of reporter Sarah Ryley, widespread abuse of eviction rules by the police to oust hundreds of people, most of them poor minorities.”


It was just one of the prizes that touched on people of color and society’s vulnerable.

“The journalism winners include reporting that challenges powerful politicians and institutions and exposes systematic abuse of people with little hope of defending themselves,” administrator Mike Pride said in introducing the awards at Columbia University.


Answering a surprise question after the announcement about the racial diversity among the awards, Pride said that of seven arts and letters prizes, three went to African Americans. He also said that the Pulitzer Prize board was diverse and that it makes an effort to be inclusive, though “I don’t think it puts a thumb on any work.”

Pride added that a Chinese American was also among the winners, a reference to Du Yun, cited in the music category for “Angel’s Bone,” “a bold operatic work that integrates vocal and instrumental elements and a wide range of styles into a harrowing allegory for human trafficking in the modern world.”


The three African American winners for arts and letters were Colson Whitehead in fiction for “The Underground Railroad,” Lynn Nottage in drama for “Sweat” and Tyehimba Jess in poetry for “Olio.” Another winner, Hisham Matar, might be called a North African American. Born in New York to Libyan parents, he won for biography or autobiography for “The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between,” in which he recounts his quest to discover whether his father was in fact killed by the Muhammar Gaddafi regime in Libya.

Hilton Als (Brigitte Lacomb)

In journalism, Hilton Als, theater critic of the New Yorker and a staff writer there since 1994, appeared to be the only African American winner who was not part of a team.

Als won the prize for criticism, for “bold and original reviews that strove to put stage dramas within a real-world cultural context, particularly the shifting landscape of gender, sexuality and race.”


The New Yorker added, “His reviews are not simply reviews; they are provocative contributions to the discourse on theatre, race, class, sexuality, and identity in America.”

African Americans and other people of color appeared more as subjects of the award-winning pieces.


The staff of the East Bay Times in Oakland, Calif., won in the breaking news category “for relentless coverage of the ‘Ghost Ship’ fire, which killed 36 people at a warehouse party, and for reporting after the tragedy that exposed the city’s failure to take actions that might have prevented it.”

The Bay Area News Group created the East Bay Times only last year in a consolidation of the Contra Costa Times, the Oakland Tribune, the Daily Review in Hayward and the Argus, which serves Fremont.


On Facebook, veteran Bay Area reporter Thomas Peele posted the joyful words “PULITZER PRIZE” after the New York announcement, to which one respondent wrote, “Fingers cross that company management sees this as an opportunity to invest more heavily in important, time-consuming local investigative reporting.”

The victims of the Ghost Ship fire were an artistic group that included Alex Ghassan, a freelance filmmaker for KQED in San Francisco. “The fire broke out during a dance party in the ‘Ghost Ship,’ described by CNN as a ‘rare haven in the Bay Area’s gentrifying landscape’ for artists who lived and worked there,” April Simpson reported at the time for current.org.


Some were transgender, and friends worked to ensure that the news media reported their correct gender identities, Sarah Grochowski reported then for the Daily News in New York.

The Bay Area News Group profiled each of the victims.

In this photo taken by Daniel Berehulak in the Philippines, Jimji, 6, cries “Papa!” in anguish as she and other relatives await the start of the funeral for her father, Jimboy Bolasa, 25. His body, showing signs of torture along with gunshot wounds, was found under a bridge.

Among other awards, Daniel Berehulak, a native of Sydney, Australia, won in “breaking news, photography” for “powerful storytelling through images published in The New York Times showing the callous disregard for human life in the Philippines brought about by a government assault on drug dealers and users.”

E. Jason Wambsgans of the Chicago Tribune won for feature photography for “a superb portrayal of a 10-year-old boy and his mother striving to put the boy’s life back together after he survived a shooting in Chicago. The boy, Tavon Tanner, is African American.

Tavon Tanner tears up before surgery at Lurie Children’s Hospital on Oct. 17 to remove the bullet that ripped through his pancreas, stomach, spleen, a kidney and his left lung before becoming lodged just below his shoulder. (E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune)

Also, answering a question raised Monday by the Poynter Institute — How will coverage of Trump and the campaign fare at the Pulitzers today? — the prize for national reporting went to David A. Fahrenthold of the Washington Post for “persistent reporting that created a model for transparent journalism in political campaign coverage while casting doubt on Donald Trump’s assertions of generosity toward charities.”


The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, McClatchy and the Miami Herald won in “explanatory reporting” “for the Panama Papers, a series of stories using a collaboration of more than 300 reporters on six continents to expose the hidden infrastructure and global scale of offshore tax havens.”

The Pulitzer should be a needed morale booster. “Shortly after breaking the Panama Papers, an international exclusive that shed light on illegal offshore banking around the globe, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists should have been riding high,” Benjamin Mullin reported Feb. 27 for the Poynter Institute.


“Instead, the scrappy cross-border investigative team was facing the dreary prospect of laying staffers off due to a financial squeeze at its parent organization, the Center for Public Integrity.

“Now, 10 months after breaking the Panama Papers story with hundreds of journalists around the world, ICIJ is taking its financial future into its own hands. Earlier today, [ICIJ Director Gerald] Ryle announced the consortium is splitting off from the Center for Public Integrity in a move intended to give his team more room for financial growth.


In announcing its award, Daily News Co-Chairman & Co-Publisher Eric Gertler said, “This Pulitzer prize awarded today to the Daily News and ProPublica is not only high recognition of the tenacity and talent of Sarah Ryley but also a reflection of the importance of collaboration in today’s competitive news environment as well as the first-rate editorial leadership here at the newspaper and the high quality of journalism that the entire editorial team produces every day for our readers.”

ProPublica explained, “The series of articles by Sarah Ryley detailed a little-known NYPD practice — lawsuits that allow police to ban people from their homes or businesses, without due process, under claims that they are being used for illegal purposes. The measure was initially conceived to push out the sex industry from Times Square.


“In her initial analysis Ryley spotted the alarming trend of residents who were not convicted of crimes, and who were even cleared of their charges, but removed from their homes anyway. The cases, roughly 1,000 in New York City each year, happened almost exclusively in communities of color.

“Then a data projects editor and investigative reporter at the New York Daily News, Ryley had been looking into nuisance abatement laws for more than a year, while juggling other responsibilities. To allow for the kind of long-term, in-depth reporting and data work that the story demanded, Ryley joined forces with ProPublica.


“ProPublica provided three researchers who helped perform the time-consuming work of going through every nuisance abatement case filed in the previous year and a half — 1,162 in total — tracking every major step of the process, cross-referencing hundreds of cases with parallel proceedings in criminal court and the State Liquor Authority, and entering the details into spreadsheets.

“A ProPublica photographer, fluent in Spanish, assisted with the project’s extensive fieldwork — not only documenting the faces of families and business owners targeted by nuisance abatement actions, but also helping interview victims in largely Spanish-speaking communities such as the South Bronx and East Harlem.


“ProPublica editors worked with Ryley to develop and structure the pieces, which were the first long-form stories of her journalism career. . . .”

The photographer, Edwin Torres, wrote on Facebook, “Most of my work involved photographing and street reporting on the families whose homes were raided or were evicted or business owners whose shops were shut down. Going door to door in the projects and section 8 housing. Days seemed to go on forever...Access was not easy. I was blessed to spend my days with Sarah Ryley, the journalist, whose original idea it was to investigate and crack the code. I am honored and this proves that good journalism makes a difference!”


Mark Abadi, Business Insider: ‘Phony,’ ‘failing,’ ‘worthless’ — here are all the names Trump has called this year’s Pulitzer Prize winners

List of winners and finalists

Edward Enninful

New Editor of British Vogue Is Male and Black

He had been rumored to be a contender from the beginning, but most people didn’t believe it would ever happen,” Vanessa Friedman reported Monday for the New York Times.


“Not because Edward Enninful, the renowned image-maker, friend of Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell, isn’t supremely talented, but because he is a black man, born in Ghana, raised in London and working in New York.

“To give Mr. Enninful the reins of one of the most storied woman’s fashion magazines would be to make a statement about diversity and gender that would resonate far beyond hemlines, upending decades of tradition and assumptions about men’s and women’s roles and reaffirming the importance of a global viewpoint for the fashion industry at a time when barriers are going up around the world.


“But on Monday, Jonathan Newhouse, the chief executive of Condé Nast International, did just that, naming Mr. Enninful the first male editor of British Vogue since its founding in 1916, and the first black editor of any edition of Vogue. . . .”

Scarlett Conlon, vogue.co.uk: Edward Enninful Confirmed As New British Vogue Editor


Scarlett Conlon, vogue.co.uk: Edward Enninful On His Appointment As Editor

Niko Smith spent 12 hours pacing alone in his Washoe County Jail cell before trying to hang himself. He died after his heart stopped as he struggled with six deputies pinning him to the floor. (Provided by Washoe County Sheriff’s Office)

13 Who Died Waiting for Their Day in Court

Since Sheriff Chuck Allen took office on Jan. 1, 2015, the death rate at the jail has increased 600 percent,” the Reno (Nev.) Gazette-Journal reported. “The Reno Gazette-Journal spent nearly a year investigating why. In this four-part series, we bring you the stories of 13 people who died while waiting for their day in court.”


A story by Anjeanette Damon, posted Wednesday, begins, “Donald Torres, the last man to commit suicide at the Washoe County jail, drank so much water that he died. He did it in the infirmary under a doctor’s care.

Rebecca Hayhurst arrived at the Washoe County jail extremely intoxicated and was put in a holding cell with a camera. She hanged herself with her jail-issued pants within an hour.


Robert White had been in jail for two months, had a history of being put on suicide watch and was housed in the mental health unit. Apparently distraught over an impending divorce, he hanged himself with a bedsheet.

“Before the 2014 election, the Washoe County jail went five years without a single inmate suicide.


“Since then, the suicide rate has skyrocketed, a Reno Gazette-Journal investigation found. The spike in deaths happened as the jail stopped providing annual suicide prevention training.

“Since Jan. 1, 2015, six inmates have committed suicide at the Washoe County Jail. In the eight years prior to that, only one inmate succeeded in hanging himself.


“The suicides are just one aspect of a spiking death rate at the jail since Sheriff Chuck Allen took over. Thirteen people have died in the last two years — including three who died while being restrained by deputies, one who died when a baggie of meth burst in his digestive track two weeks after he was booked into the jail and a woman who died in the infirmary while detoxing from heroin. Two inmates died of natural causes. . . .”

Anjeanette Damon, Reno Gazette-Journal: Death Behind Bars: How we did it

Brendan Fitzgerald, Columbia Journalism Review: They weren’t the first to probe police shootings. But Tampa Bay Times wanted to ‘do it better.’


Andrea Pitzer, Longreads: The Bitter History of Law and Order in America

Racial Difference in Car Insurance Doesn’t Add Up

For decades, auto insurers have been observed to charge higher average premiums to drivers living in predominantly minority urban neighborhoods than to drivers with similar safety records living in majority white neighborhoods,” Julia Angwin, Jeff Larson, Lauren Kirchner and Surya Mattu reported Wednesday for ProPublica, co-publishing with Consumer Reports.


“Insurers have long defended their pricing by saying that the risk of accidents is greater in those neighborhoods, even for motorists who have never had one.

“But a first-of-its-kind analysis by ProPublica and Consumer Reports, which examined auto insurance premiums and payouts in California, Illinois, Texas and Missouri, has found that many of the disparities in auto insurance prices between minority and white neighborhoods are wider than differences in risk can explain.


“In some cases, insurers such as Allstate, Geico and Liberty Mutual were charging premiums that were on average 30 percent higher in zip codes where most residents are minorities than in whiter neighborhoods with similar accident costs. . . .”

AP Intern Died Tragically, but He’s Inspiring Others

Armando Montano

“Grinnell College alumnus Armando Alters Montano made fast friends from his earliest days in nursery school to his final days before he was killed in Mexico City (second item) while working as an intern for the Associated Press nearly five years ago,” Daniel P. Finney wrote Friday for the Des Moines Register.

Finney also wrote, “Mando’s life may have ended, but his legacy continues. His parents endowed a program to encourage young writers at Grinnell, part of the Writers@Grinnell series.


“Last week, the school hosted a series of events to honor Mando.

“ ‘What lives on is (Mando’s) tenacious spirit and the courage to ask questions,’ said novelist Dean Bakopoulos, a Grinnell College professor, at a roundtable discussion during the two-day event.


“Some of Mando’s old friends showed up, including Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Dale Mahardrige, who knew Mando as a toddler, and two-time Pulitzer-winning photojournalist Michael Williamson, one of Mando’s godfathers.

“A few of Mando’s classmates showed up, including one of his close friends. She wore beat-up cowboy boots, just like the kind Mando preferred.


“The students attended a roundtable in Mando’s name, eating pizza and conversing with accomplished journalists who knew him well.

“Grinnell does not have a journalism school or journalism classes, though the school is renowned for its writing programs. The students learn the trade on the fly, which, in truth, is how most journalists learn, regardless of where they study.


“And so, a whole new generation of future writers, journalists and activists found out about a young man just like them, learning as he went, writing and editing for the Scarlet & Black, and going on to great success despite a life cut tragically short. . . .”

Arrested Jan. 20, They Still Don’t Have Their Phones

Cheney Orr, a photographer, drove down from New York City early in the morning on Jan. 20 to document the events of President Donald Trump’s Inauguration Day,” Zoe Tillman reported Sunday for BuzzFeed.


“He didn’t expect that by the end of the day, he’d be arrested, loaded into a police van, and charged with rioting. And he certainly didn’t expect that he would later agree to turn over the contents of his cell phone and cameras to prosecutors in order to get his property back, even as he maintained his innocence.

“Orr is one of 16 people — mostly journalists, photographers, and legal observers — arrested on Jan. 20 on a felony rioting charge whose cases have already been dropped by prosecutors. Police seized all phones, cameras, and other electronic devices during the arrests.


“Some had to wait several weeks for their cases to get dismissed and to get their property back, according to interviews with BuzzFeed News and court documents. Some still don’t have their devices. Most don’t know if their phones or cameras were searched by police or prosecutors — or whether those prosecutors plan to use the information on the devices as evidence in others’ cases.

“First Amendment lawyers and legal ethics experts say the fact that journalists and legal observers were caught in the mass arrests on Jan. 20 is troubling on its own. But the seizure and possible search of their phones and cameras adds a whole new layer of legal complexity.


“Mass arrests that sweep up journalists — enabling police and prosecutors to collect electronic evidence they might not otherwise have access to — threatens the independence of the press, said Stephanie Lacambra, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. EFF has been working with Jan. 20 arrestees to get their phones back. . . .”

Fox Hires Outside Firm to Investigate O’Reilly

Fox News’ parent company has enlisted an outside law firm to investigate sexual harassment claims against its top-rated host Bill O’Reilly after one of his accusers called the corporate hotline to report her experience,” Brianna Sacks reported Monday for BuzzFeed.


“21st Century Fox is opening the probe after Dr. Wendy Walsh, a radio talk show host in Los Angeles, called the network’s anonymous tip line and detailed alleged harassment by O’Reilly. She posted the entire exchange on YouTube.

“ ‘21st Century Fox investigates all complaints and we have asked the law firm Paul Weiss to continue assisting the company in these serious matters,’ the company said in a statement. Paul Weiss is the same firm that investigated former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes, who was ousted from the company over harassment allegations. . . .”


Shaun King, Daily News, New York: Bill O’Reilly’s new best-selling book about family values should be categorized as fiction

Claire Cain Miller, New York Times: It’s Not Just Fox: Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Harassment


Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Washington Post: Bill O’Reilly’s ratings are actually higher than they were since the sexual harassment allegations


Here’s Why They Choose to Work in Public Media

This year, as Current marks the 50th anniversary of the Public Broadcasting Act, we are illuminating the experiences that inspired people to choose to work in public media,” April Simpson reported April 4 for current.org. “Every week, we will be sharing their stories using the hashtag #IAmPublicMedia.


“Here are a handful of stories to start with. Hady Mawajdeh was a backseat baby whose parents listened to public radio. He credits Terry Gross for changing his life after his family fell on hard times. Noland Walker recalls a high-school classmate asking him whether his aspiration to become a film director was a ‘realistic goal for a black man in America’ — and he showed her. Susan Stamberg recalls how she came to launch two public radio institutions and earn the distinction of being a ‘founding mother’ of NPR.

“Now we want to hear from you. Share your story on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #IAmPublicMedia. Current is also collecting longer contributions, like these stories. If you’d like us to feature your story, submit it here.


“Tell us, why did you choose to work in public media? . . .”

Other initial subjects are Callie Crossley, host of “Under the Radar with Callie Crossley” at WGBH in Boston; Rick Sebak, television producer, WQED in Pittsburgh; Rafael Pi Roman, host of ‘MetroFocus’ on WNET-TV in New York; Niala Boodhoo, host of ‘The 21st’ for Illinois Public Media and former vice president for broadcast of the Asian American Journalists Association; and documentary filmmaker Ken Burns.


Short Takes

Her job is to read news on TV and Supreet Kaur did just that by reading the breaking news of her husband’s death in a road accident, leaving her shell-shocked colleagues speechless by her exemplary commitment,” Ritesh Mishra reported Sunday for India’s Hindustan Times. “A news reader at Chhattisgarh’s private IBC-24 channel, Kaur kept her composure during Saturday morning’s live news bulletin as a reporter phoned in details of a fatal accident . . .”


David Plazas has been promoted to Deputy Director of Opinion and Engagement for the USA Today Network – Tennessee,Veronica Villafañe reported Friday for her Media Moves site. “Plazas joined The Tennessean in 2014 as the paper’s Opinion and Engagement Editor, will continue in that role in addition to his expanded responsibilities. He will be part of a statewide team covering major issues across Tennessee for the network’s six publications – The Tennessean and The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, The News Sentinel in Knoxville, The Leaf-Chronicle in Clarksville, The Jackson Sun and The Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro. . . .”

Employees at Breitbart News have been asked by senior editors to refrain from writing stories critical of Jared Kushner, two people familiar with the matter told Business Insider,” Oliver Darcy reported Monday for Business Insider. “The New York Times reported over the weekend that allies of Kushner, a senior White House adviser, had complained to President Donald Trump about the negative coverage he was receiving from the far-right website. . . .”


The complete disregard for truth — even the purposeful dissolution of it — was plain to see on the now-infamous opening Saturday of the administration, when [Sean] Spicer summoned reporters to the White House so he could treat them to an impromptu address about the inauguration crowd size,” Seth Stevenson wrote Monday for Slate, referring to the White House press secretary’s briefings. Stevenson also wrote, “It’s infuriating. It’s tiresome. And it means the press corps is forced to treat Spicer like a fibbing toddler. . . .”

Fewer than half of Americans (44%) think the government should provide subsidies to help lower-income Americans pay for high-speed internet at home,” Kenneth Olmstead, Monica Anderson and John B. Horrigan reported Monday for the Pew Research Center. “A larger share (54%) says high-speed home internet service is affordable enough that nearly every household should be able to buy service on its own. . . .”


The words of Milwaukee native Al Jarreauresonate even more strongly today as federal funding for the arts faces severe cuts under the Trump administration,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorialized Wednesday. The jazz vocalist, who died on Feb. 12, wrote for the Journal Sentinel last year, “I am very concerned that, today, children in my hometown of Milwaukee, and across our country, are not getting the same exposure to arts that I had. This is largely due to extreme cuts in funding for education, and the decision by our leaders that the fine arts are expendable. . . .”

Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication is receiving one of the highest honors in journalism education for diversity and inclusion,” the university announced on Wednesday. “The Cronkite School is the recipient of the 2017 Equity and Diversity Award from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC). Established in 2009, the Equity and Diversity Award recognizes journalism and mass communication programs that have attained measurable success in increasing equity and diversity over a three-year span. . . .”


The National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters has filed comments with the FCC opposing the lifting of the Commission’s subcaps rules,” Radio Ink reported Monday. “There has been a strong movement on the part of broadcasters to eliminate the subcap rules, which limits owners from having more than 8 stations per market or 5 on each band. . . .”

Noticias Telemundo and NBC News Anchor José Díaz-Balart received the 2017 Latinovator Award in a ceremony hosted by the NBC4 Southern California reporter and former president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) Mekahlo Medina during the the eighth annual Hispanicize 2017 Week,” Broadway World reported on Thursday.


The pursuit of facts and shedding light on serious developments were recurring themes at the 2017 Journalism Institute for Media Diversity’s Spirit of Diversity Awards” Friday at Wayne State University, Mark Hicks reported for the Detroit News. Dean Baquet, executive editor at the New York Times, and Bridge Magazine reporter Chastity Pratt Dawsey were honored. Dawsey, who covers Michigan cities and urban affairs for Bridge, said, “I’m just trying to do the work.” Baquet said, “When we’re under assault, people really and truly want us to succeed. They truly want us to be independent and fair.”

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