Pulitzer's Gold

A Century of Public Service Journalism, revised and updated edition

Roy J. Harris Jr.

Columbia University Press

Pulitzer's Gold

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Pub Date: December 2015

ISBN: 9780231170291

488 Pages

Format: Paperback

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Pub Date: December 2015

ISBN: 9780231170284

488 Pages

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List Price: $105.00£88.00

Pub Date: December 2015

ISBN: 9780231540568

488 Pages

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Pulitzer's Gold

A Century of Public Service Journalism, revised and updated edition

Roy J. Harris Jr.

Columbia University Press

The Joseph Pulitzer Gold Medal for meritorious public service is an unparalleled American media honor, awarded to news organizations for collaborative reporting that moves readers, provokes change, and advances the journalistic profession. Updated to reflect new winners of the Pulitzer Prize for public service journalism and the many changes in the practice and business of journalism, Pulitzer's Gold goes behind the scenes to explain the mechanics and effects of these groundbreaking works.

The veteran journalist Roy J. Harris Jr. adds fascinating new detail to well-known accounts of the Washington Post investigation into the Watergate affair, the New York Times coverage of the Pentagon Papers, and the Boston Globe revelations of the Catholic Church's sexual-abuse cover-up. He examines recent Pulitzer-winning coverage of government surveillance of U.S. citizens and expands on underexplored stories, from the scandals that took down Boston financial fraud artist Charles Ponzi in 1920 to recent exposés that revealed neglect at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and municipal thievery in Bell, California. This one-hundred-year history of bold journalism follows developments in all types of reporting—environmental, business, disaster coverage, war, and more.

Roy Harris is the master historian of the Pulitzer Prize. He has written the real inside story of the most serious journalism of the last century and provided a brilliant portrait of America. Know your journalism, and you will know your country and its values.

Bob Woodward, The Washington Post

Pulitzer's Gold is a deeply researched, richly anecdotal and faithfully inspirational chronicle of how relentless journalists, over the last 100 years, have exposed a remarkable assortment of ills and abuses to make the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service the global standard for excellence. Again and again, Roy Harris's smooth story-behind-the-story technique underscores the indispensable role of journalists in a free society.

Sig Gissler, former administrator, The Pulitzer Prizes

At a time when many lament a general decline in watchdog journalism, the centennial of the Pulitzer Prizes is a good time to reflect on the pivotal role the Pulitzer Gold Medal for Meritorious Public Service has played in both celebrating and encouraging public-interest journalism. There is nobody more equipped to tell a century of these riveting tales than Roy Harris Jr., as he takes us deep into some of the most engaging and impactful storytelling that has emerged from many great investigations and a continuing search for the truth.

Raju Narisetti, Senior Vice President, News Corp

Harris' Pulitzer's Gold recalls some of this nation's best journalism and tells how the stories came to be. A reporter notices an unusual data point, newsrooms publish while storms rage or human threats abound, a journalist "writes like a poet, but (with) the skills of an investigative reporter." Each led to powerful news stories that improved communities. The book provides the lift we need today. It captures the passion of journalism and celebrates great works.

Karen B. Dunlap, Poynter Institute President Emerita

Roy J. Harris Jr. has not only provided us with excellent examples of the stories that shape our world—from Watergate to 9/11 to the Catholic Church priest scandal to Hurricane Katrina to Walter Reed to Edward Snowden—he gives us context, including his illuminating interviews with the reporters and editors that produced the stories. It all makes for a riveting book and a primer for doing important journalism. Pulitzer's Gold is a must-read for anyone who cares about journalism or democracy, which should be all of us.

David Mindich, Professor at Saint Michael's College and Visiting scholar at New York University

Noting that the 2009 and 2010 Pulitzer Prize medals for public service recognized the work of reporters who had yet to turn thirty, Roy Harris Jr. writes: "How inspiring…for the crowds of college students who still see journalism as a way to change society for the better." And how true that is, as well, for this second edition of Harris's book chronicling the history of the public service prize. Harris has done a thorough-going update of his work, adding numerous new case studies of the most recent prize-winning efforts. Using an array of material – from historical archives to oral histories to interviews with current-day practitioners – he provides narratives of all 103 medal winners with in-depth treatments of a couple dozen particularly momentous pieces of journalism that often worked to create change in society and, not incidentally, went on to win journalism's most prestigious prize. The result, for those aforementioned journalism students (and their teachers), is a virtual handbook on how to pursue the big stories. Equally important for those students as well as scholars interested in the place of journalism in society, the revised book will continue to serve as a valuable resource on the development of journalism as a profession and its intersection with institutional power in the twentieth century and beyond.

Gerry Lanosga, Indiana University

The most profound truth Roy Harris has discovered is that the prize, while nice, is not the reward. The reward is the work itself: the incomparable feeling of getting up every morning knowing that your newspaper is waiting for you to go out and do the very best reporting you can. You can't put that kind of award on a shelf, but you can hold it in your heart. From Harris's meticulous account you'll sense that the real prize is one that great reporters everywhere receive in solitude in the silent moments before the presses roll.

Bob Greene, author of Late Edition: A Love Story

At a time when the business model of the American newspaper lies broken, this book tells us, by vivid examples, why newspapers are essential to our national well-being. It is a sobering yet inspiring message.

John S. Carroll, former Los Angeles Times editor and 1993-2002 Pulitzer Prize Board member

The depiction of the faith, strategy, and bankrolling that some stories require is masterful; the book is essential reading for aspiring and seasoned newshounds alike.

Columbia Magazine
Acknowledgments
Reintroduction: Refining Pulitzer's Gold
Part I. Gold for a New Century
1. A Medal for All Seasons: 2013–2014: From Police Speeding to NSA Spying
2. The Most Prized Pulitzer: The "Germ of an Idea" Takes Root
3. A Newsroom Challenged: 2002: The New York Times and 9/11
4. Epiphany in Boston: 2003: The Globe and the Church
5. From Times to Times: 2004–2005: Rivals Win in New York and Los Angeles
6. The Storm Before the Calm: 2006: The Times-Picayune and the Sun Herald's Summer of Katrina
7. Stocks and Soldiers: 2007–2008: The Journal on Options, the Post on Walter Reed
8. Prizing Youth: 2009–2010: The Las Vegas Sun and the Bristol (Va.) Herald Courier
9. The Tradition Survives: 2011–2012: Return of the L.A. Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer
Part II. Coming of Age
10. First Gold: 1917–1919: The Great War, Brought Home
11. Reporting on the Roaring: 1920–1929: Ponzi's Scam and an Ohio Editor's Murder
12. From Depression to Wartime: 1930–1945: Corruption and the Dust Bowl
13. A Handful of Gold: 1936–1952: The Post-Dispatch Makes Its Mark
14. A New Stew of Issues: 1953–1969: Little Rock, the Suburbs, and Firsts for Women
15. Secret Papers, Secret Reporting: 1972: The Pentagon Papers and the Times
16. All the Editor's Men: 1973: Watergate and the Post
Part III. Challenges for a New Era
17. In Watergate's Shadow: 1970–1978: Newsday, the Inquirer, and Davids vs. Goliaths
18. Mightier Than the Snake: 1979: The Point Reyes Light on Synanon
19. Everybody's Business: 1980–1989: Considering the Company View
20. The Nature of Things: 1990–1998: The Scientific and the Sordid
21. The Post Rings Twice: 1999–2000: Police Shootings and Shameful Homes
Afterword
Appendix: Pulitzer Gold Nuggets
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Read the chapter, "Epiphany in Boston: 2003: The Globe and the Church:

About the Author

Roy J. Harris Jr. spent over two decades as a Wall Street Journal reporter, including six years as deputy chief of its Los Angeles bureau. He then spent thirteen years as senior editor of The Economist's CFO Magazine. Early in his career, he reported for the Los Angeles Times and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He lives in Hingham, Massachusetts.