Monday, April 17, 2006

Where they were when they won

The Pulitzer Prizes, the highest award presented for excellence in journalism, were announced today. In anticipation, an article published yesterday in Editor & Publisher visited with former winners, asking them the question "Where Were You When You Heard You Won a Pulitzer?"

My favorite story comes from Eileen McNamara, a Boston Globe columnist who won the prize in 1997 for Commentary writing:

"I was at the stove, stirring a pot of spaghetti, talking to my husband and three hungry children. The phone rang. The editor of the Globe told me I won. I began to cry. My daughter, Katie, who was 6, asked her dad why mom was crying. 'I think she just won the Pulitzer Prize,' he said. 'What's the Pully Surprise,' she asked. 'Is she going to finish the spaghetti?'" She did, in case you were wondering.

I also saw some photos today from different newsrooms across the country that were celebrating their wins. Some made me smile, like the jubilation that was seen at
The Times-Picayune and The San Diego Union Tribune, while others, like the photo of Rocky Mountain News photographer Todd Heisler comforting Katherine Cathey, who was holding her little boy, Jimmy, made me tear up. Heisler and reporter Jim Sheeler won the Pulitzer for feature writing and photography for their special report, titled "Final Salute," which told the story of the Marines who are responsible for notifying the families of dead soldiers. Katherine's husband, James Cathey, died in Iraq and her story was a featured part of Sheeler and Heisler's winning effort.

You can see a slideshow of the photos Heisler took, but be warned. They are both powerful and heartbreaking.


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