On June 9, ASBPE past president Roy Harris will be at Porter Square Books in Cambridge, Mass., to talk about the art and craft of journalism and the Pulitzer-winning news organizations detailed in his book Pulitzer's Gold.
From the book's jacket copy:
Roy was most recently senior editor of the Economist Group's CFO magazine. He served from 1971 to 1994 as a reporter with the Wall Street Journal, including six years as deputy chief of its fourteen-member Los Angeles bureau. Early in his career he reported at the Los Angeles Times and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He now lives in Hingham, Massachusetts.
No journalism awards are awaited with as much anticipation as the Pulitzers. And among those Pulitzers, none is more revered than the Joseph Pulitzer Gold Medal.
Pulitzer's Gold is the first book to trace the ninety-year history of the coveted Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. Exploring this service-journalism legacy, Roy Harris recalls dozens of "stories behind the stories," often allowing the journalists involved to share their own accounts. Included are a vivid description of the Boston Globe's uncovering of sexual misconduct by Catholic priests; an analysis of how the New York Times helped the community cope with the 9/11 attacks; and tales of the brilliant coverage of Hurricane Katrina by two wounded papers, the Times-Picayune in New Orleans and the Sun Herald in Gulfport, Miss.Readers will recognize some of the stories, like the New York Times's Pentagon Papers exclusive and the Watergate scandal that Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein dug up for the Washington Post. But Harris takes his Gold Medal saga through two World Wars, the Great Depression, the Civil Rights struggle, and the Vietnam era before bringing public-service journalism into today's age of environmental and corporate exposes. Among the hidden treasures that come alive: how the Boston Post exposed the original Roaring Twenties Ponzi schemer — dapper, silver-tongued Charles Ponzi himself — and how northern California's tiny, remote Point Reyes Light, thirty years ago, discovered that the Synanon antidrug program had become a dangerous armed cult. (As the Light investigated, one Synanon critic was attacked by arattlesnake that had been stuffed into his mailbox by group operatives, taking the story, and the Light's fame, national.)
Through these and other Gold Medal accounts, newspaper teamwork gets its due as a driving factor in great journalism, and Harris acknowledges reporters and editors who may have received little personal attention when their papers received the awards. He also examines the evolution of the judging process since the first Pulitzers in 1917, addressing controversies arising over the public-service selections.
At a time when newspaper journalism is severely challenged, story after story illustrates how public-service reporting has been a point of pride for the American press, whether by small-town papers or metropolitan dailies. Pulitzer's Gold offers a new way of looking at journalism history and practice and a new lens through which to view America's own story.
Time: Tuesday, June 9, 2009, 7:00 p.m.
Porter Square Books
Porter Square Shopping Center
25 White Street
Cambridge, MA 02140
Purchase a copy of Pulitzer's Gold from Porter Square Books.