Tag Archives: Pulitzer Prize

“Spotlight”

Spotlight the movie Before we went to see the movie “Spotlight,” the film based on the Boston Globe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation into widespread pedophilia by Catholic priests and the church’s systemic cover-up of the abuse, my wife, a former newspaper hack like myself, said, “This is going to make us sad.”

And it did.

I never won a Pulitzer Prize, although at various points in my career I have worked with people who have. I presume no claim to their honor, but mention this as a way of saying I understand the work ethic, focus and passion that propelsordinary people who are good journalists into extraordinary people who are great ones.

“Spotlight” highlighted the scarcity of those things those people in my life.

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 8.21.01 AM    Ever since I left the newsroom in San Francisco in 2000 to join a start-up, a short-lived, but lucrative adventure, I’ve wondered how to get back – not to a newspaper, necessarily, but to journalism and to the sense of purpose that imbues all the best moments of its practice.

But, I am poorly self-directed, too easily distracted and (still) foolishly insecure, a terrible recipe for someone hoping to resurrect an idea he abandoned and left molder in the closet of past decisions. Suffice to say, I didn’t find my way back (the unsuccessful itinerary is another story.) “Spotlight” made me wish I had.

This is not a regret (those I possess, but they have to do with people), but a realization made in the unforgiving light of age. I am not one to look back too often, but it’s fair to say that when I do I linger. I see the choices not made. I see the roads rejected. I see the work undone. I see the people left behind.

It would be easy, and natural, I think, to conflate the nostalgia of those newspaper days with hormonal headiness of youth. I was young then, and headstrong and arrogant and just smart enough to learn things quickly, like so many others I worked with. We were inflated with purpose, self-worth and the potency of the (then) power of the press.

Is that what “Spotlight” made me miss – my youth? Or, was it the journalism and, in the realm of the old San Francisco Examiner, the assemblage of great talents and even greater egos who produced it at its peak?

Probably both.

Pulitzers, 2008

Pulitzer PrizeEven though the bulk of the 2008 Pulitzer Prizes announced today were won by large news organizations — the Washington Post took six — one of the awards demonstrates that capacity of great work exists even within the smallest of news organizations.

Photographer Preston Gannaway of the 20,000 circulation Concord (N.H.) Monitor on the Pulitzer for Feature Photography with her intimate essay of a family coping with death. Looking at her pictures is difficult emotionally, but rewarding in their honest portrayal of something that is real in all of our lives. (Slidshow here.)

In my previous blog about newspaper journalism, I once wrote about the power of one, the capacity of any journalist, writer or photographer, to strive for excellence. Gannaway proves the point.

* Also: The Pulitzer for Spot News was won by Adrees Latif of Reuters this picture of a wounded Japanese photographer being held at gunpoint during the riots last year in Burma. The photographer later died.