- The Washington Times - Monday, April 20, 2009

Comments from some Pulitzer Prize winners:

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“It’s a real shot in the arm in a year like this when, you know, some newspapers are closing and a lot of the others are on the ropes. And all of us are feeling some budget pressure. And it’s a reminder of the things that newspapers can do that would be very hard to replace if we all went out of business.” _ Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times, which won Pulitzers for breaking news, investigative reporting, international reporting, criticism and feature photography.

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“This Pulitzer Prize is reflective of the grit and determination in Detroit. It’s a Free Press award based first on the reporting of two wonderful, supremely skilled, accurate, relentless reporters.” _ Paul Anger, Detroit Free Press vice president and editor. The paper and reporters Jim Schaefer and M.L. Elrick won the local reporting prize for uncovering lies by Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick that included his denial of a sexual relationship with an aide. Both officials eventually served time in jail.

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“It is kind of sad. I wish I was still at the Tribune. I’d have a party with them right now.” _ laid-off journalist Paul Giblin, of the East Valley Tribune in Mesa, Ariz., who along with Ryan Gabrielson won for local reporting for a series showing how a sheriff’s focus on immigration enforcement endangered investigation of other crimes.

Added publisher and CEO Julie Moreno: “You don’t have to be a huge paper in order to do the kind of work that gets outstanding recognition.”

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“To have our work honored and recognized in a time when it just seems like all you’re reading these days is that there may not be as much interest as there once was, it’s just a real shot in the arm.” _ Neil Brown, executive editor of the St. Petersburg Times, which won the national reporting award for PolitiFact, a fact-checking initiative during the 2008 presidential campaign, and the feature writing award for coverage by Lane DeGregory of a neglected girl and her adoption.

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“If I’m going to win, I’m glad it’s for that. I think this indicates that we really are making a difference.” _ Mark Mahoney, who won the prize for editorials in The Post-Star of Glens Falls, N.Y., on the perils of secrecy in local government.

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“Hooray for the L.A. Times. It was great that we were given the amount of time to report something that is so important to our readers.” _ Julie Cart, reporter for the Los Angeles Times, who along with Bettina Boxall won the prize for explanatory reporting for coverage of Western wildfires.

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“I thought that it was an incredible piece of history that was unfolding in this country … and I had to do my best to tell it.” _ Eugene Robinson, of The Washington Post, who won the prize for commentary for his columns on the 2008 presidential campaign.

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“Winning the Pulitzer is fabulous, but the fact that this series stopped people from dying on Las Vegas Strip construction projects is the most important part of what we did.” _ Michael J. Kelley, managing editor of the Las Vegas Sun, which won the public service prize for exposing a high death rate among construction workers on the Strip. The work of reporter Alexandra Berzon was singled out for praise, which Kelley said “couldn’t be more deserved.”

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“That’s a country that everywhere you turn there’s just an image that just needs to be seen ….” _ Patrick Farrell, of The Miami Herald, who won in the breaking news photography category for his images of despair in Haiti after Hurricane Ike and other storms.

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“It’s a huge honor for me, but more importantly, I hope it really validates the idea that this is a part of American history that we have ignored and neglected, and it’s time for a really dramatic reinterpretation of what happened to African-Americans during that period of time.” _ Douglas A. Blackmon, Atlanta bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal, who won in general nonfiction for “Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II.”

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“While they certainly gave it to composers, like, eventually, Charles Ives, Aaron Copland, John Adams … there were a lot of very important people that they passed over who were not university types, and I’m not a university type. There’s a bend in the road that happened, and that undoubtedly was part of my being selected.” _ Steve Reich, whose “Double Sextet” won the music prize.

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“I wanted to tell the story of these women and the war in the Congo and I couldn’t find anything about them in the newspapers or in the library, so I felt I had to get on a plane and go to Africa and find the story myself. I felt there was a complete absence in the media of their narrative. It’s very different now, but when I went in 2004 that was definitely the case.” _ Lynn Nottage, who won for “Ruined,” a drama set in Congo.

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