Detroit's Stephen Henderson Wins Pulitzer for Commentary
Sunday, April 13, 2014
Stephen Henderson, editorial page editor of the Detroit Free Press, won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary Monday "for his columns on the financial crisis facing his hometown, written with passion and a stirring sense of place, sparing no one in their critique."
Henderson appeared to be the only black journalist named individually in the winners' circle, but others were on the staff of the Boston Globe, which won in the breaking news category "for its exhaustive and empathetic coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings and the ensuing manhunt that enveloped the city, using photography and a range of digital tools to capture the full impact of the tragedy."
In the Free Press newsroom, "He's already been sprayed with Champagne," Thelma Oakes, administrative assistant to the editorial page, told Journal-isms by telephone about half an hour after the announcement. "The mayor's called, the congressman's called, his wife and children are here. It's just a stream of people coming in to congratulate him."
Henderson came into his office as Oakes was speaking. He told Journal-isms, "It's overwhelming. What I hope that what people can take from this is that even in our darkest hour, with our financial problems and the bankruptcy, there is still a city that's functioning.
"There is still greatness there and excellence. I feel like it's ironic almost that I'm being honored for work about perhaps the darkest hour for my city, the city where I was born. . . . We're down but not out."
In its story on Henderson's Pulitzer, the Free Press listed the columns for which he was being recognized.
Most of the attention is expected to focus on the public service award to the Guardian and the Washington Post for their reporting on national security disclosures.
Ravi Somaiya reported for the New York Times, "The Washington Post and the Guardian won the Pulitzer Prize for public service, among the most prestigious awards in journalism, for their stories based on National Security Agency documents leaked by the former government contractor Edward J. Snowden.
"Through a series of reports that exposed the N.S.A.'s widespread domestic surveillance program, the Post and the Guardian sparked an international debate on the limits of government surveillance, a formal review from the White House and promises from President Obama himself to limit the agency’s powers. The newspapers also came under heavy criticism by the American and British governments, with lawmakers accusing the two papers of compromising national security."
Henderson follows seven other black journalists and one Latina to win in the commentary category since 1970.
The African Americans are Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post, 2009; Cynthia Tucker, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 2007; Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald, 2004; Colbert King, Washington Post, 2003; E.R. Shipp, Daily News, New York, 1996; William Raspberry, Washington Post, 1994; and Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune, 1989. Cuban-born Liz Balmaseda of the Miami Herald won in 1993.
In the related criticism category, awards have gone to Wesley Morris of the Boston Globe, 2012; Robin Givhan of the Washington Post, 2006; Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times, 1998; and Margo Jefferson of the New York Times, 1995.
Henderson, 43, became editorial page editor of the Free Press in 2008. The Detroit native worked with the Free Press in the mid-1990s, held editing posts with the Baltimore Sun and the Chicago Tribune, and in 2003, became the first mainstream newspaper reporter of color to regularly cover the U.S. Supreme Court. He did so for the former Knight Ridder newspapers, and then for the McClatchy Washington bureau. Henderson returned to the Free Press in 2007.
As Doug Saffir wrote for Boston.com, "The full staff of the Boston Globe, Boston.com, and BostonGlobe.com won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news reporting for coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings in April 2013."
Among those staff members were journalists of color Wesley Lowery, Martine Powers, Akilah Johnson, Meghan Irons, Anica Butler, Zuri Berry, Brian Ballou, Andrew Tran, Patty Wen, Tracy Jan, Milton Valencia, Maria Cramer, Maria Sacchetti and Swati Sharma.
The Globe said in a news release, "While noting that this marks the first time that the Globe has won the Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News, editor Brian McGrory asked the staff to observe a moment of 'quiet reflection and remembrance' for those affected by the bombings, and for those who lost their lives. 'There’s nobody in this room who wanted to cover this story. Each and every one of us hopes that nothing like it ever happens again on our watch,' he said. . . ."
The Pulitzer winners:
PUBLIC SERVICE — Two Prizes: The Guardian US and the Washington Post
BREAKING NEWS REPORTING — the Boston Globe Staff
INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING — Chris Hamby of the Center for Public Integrity, Washington.
EXPLANATORY REPORTING — Eli Saslow of the Washington Post
LOCAL REPORTING — Will Hobson and Michael LaForgia of the Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times
NATIONAL REPORTING — David Philipps of the Gazette, Colorado Springs, Colo.
INTERNATIONAL REPORTING —- Jason Szep and Andrew R.C. Marshall of Reuters
FEATURE WRITING — No award
COMMENTARY — Stephen Henderson of the Detroit Free Press
CRITICISM — Inga Saffron of the Philadelphia Inquirer
EDITORIAL WRITING — The Editorial Staff of the Oregonian, Portland
EDITORIAL CARTOONING — Kevin Siers of the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer
BREAKING NEWS PHOTOGRAPHY —- Tyler Hicks of the New York Times
FEATURE PHOTOGRAPHY — Josh Haner of the New York Times
Letters, Drama and Music
FICTION - "The Goldfinch" by Donna Tartt (Little, Brown)
DRAMA — "The Flick" by Annie Baker
HISTORY — "The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832" by Alan Taylor (W.W. Norton)
BIOGRAPHY — "Margaret Fuller: A New American Life" by Megan Marshall (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
POETRY - "3 Sections" by Vijay Seshadri (Graywolf Press)
GENERAL NONFICTION — "Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation" by Dan Fagin (Bantam Books)
MUSIC — "Become Ocean" by John Luther Adams (Taiga Press/Theodore Front Musical Literature)
No award for feature writing was made this year. Kevin Merida, managing editor of the Washington Post, told blogger Bill Lucey, a former news researcher, "That the board chooses not to hand out an award doesn’t invalidate that work, and doesn’t mean the jurors were wrong about their choices. It just demonstrates what we intellectually know — journalism, like art, is not science."
Have President Obama and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. been disrespected because of their race? Are some states' efforts to restrict the vote racially motivated?
An all-white panel on "Fox News Sunday" considered those questions — black journalist Juan Williams was absent — and the near-unanimous rejection of those propositions demonstrated the difference diversity can make in such forums.
The next morning, on TVOne's "NewsOne Now" with Roland Martin, an all-black panel weighed those issues and — surprise — the conclusions were nearly diametrically opposed.
On "Fox News Sunday" the reference point for how Holder was treated was Janet Reno, President Bill Clinton's attorney general, or John Mitchell, President Richard Nixon's, but on "NewsOne Now" it was the "you lie!" shouted at President Obama during his 2009 State of the Union Address by Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C.
Joia Jefferson Nuri, founder and CEO of the Public Eye Communications, made the "you lie!" connection in conversation with Martin and Armstrong Williams, the conservative commentator, who contended that the subject on the table was not as important as the lack of sufficient black economic progress.
An excerpt from the Fox discussion, which can be found in its entirety here:
CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: Attorney General Eric Holder complaining about treatment of him and also the president after another testy exchange with House Republicans on Capitol Hill, and we're back now with the panel. Well, Attorney General Holder said the Obama administration has faced, his words, unprecedented, ugly opposition and speaking to Al Sharpton's National Action Network he clearly implied it's because of race. Brit, does he have a point?
BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't think so. And I think, you know — first of all, it's false that no attorney general, no president have been subjected to this kind of treatment. After all, Bill Clinton was impeached. Think about that for a moment. [Nixon administration Attorney General] John Mitchell went to jail. I mean the list is long of attorneys general and other officials who have been subjected to some very rough treatment on Capitol Hill and elsewhere.
And this strikes me as kind of crybaby stuff from Holder. My sense about this is that both Eric Holder and Barack Obama have benefited politically enormously from the fact that they are African-American and the first to hold the jobs that they hold and this — I don't know if he specifically meant race or not, I suspect perhaps he did. But to those two men race has been both a shield and a sword that they have used effectively to defend themselves and to attack others. And I think it is depressing at this stage in our national life after all we've been through on this issue and given the overwhelming consensus on the issue of civil rights that this kind of stuff is still going on.
WALLACE: We asked you for questions from the panel, for the panel rather, and we got this on Twitter from Michael Dagan. Why is it that if you oppose their position and you're white, you are branded a racist? Both AG Holder and POTUS — President of the United States — race bait?" George, is that what's going on here?
GEORGE WILL, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Sure. Look, liberalism has a kind of Tourette's syndrome these days, it just [is] constantly saying the word "racism" and "racist." It's an old saying in the law. If you have the law on your side, argue the law; if you have the facts on your side, argue the facts. If you have neither, pound the table. This is pounding the table.
There is kind of intellectual poverty now. Liberalism hasn't had a new idea since the 1960s, except [Obamacare] and the country doesn't like it. Foreign policy is a shambles from Russia to Iran to Syria to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And the recovery is unprecedentedly bad. So what do you do? You say anyone who criticizes us is a racist. It's become a joke among young people. You go to a campus where this kind of political correctness [reigns] and some young person will say, "looks like it's going to rain. Person listening says, "You're a racist." I mean it's so inappropriate. The constant invocation of this, that I think it's becoming a national mirth.
Others on the panel were Julie Pace, who covers the White House for the Associated Press, and Bob Woodward, associate editor of the Washington Post.
Woodward demurred from the race talk, saying, "What happens is a reporter asked John Boehner the speaker about this and the reporter's interpretation was that what Holder said was about race. And he didn't mention race. . . ."
The discussion continued will Fox News host Bill O'Reilly on Monday night, Matt Wilstein reported for Mediaite.
"Bill O’Reilly invited Fox News contributor Brit Hume onto The O’Reilly Factor Monday night to expand on comments he made about Attorney General Eric Holder and race over the weekend. Hume said the reaction to his comments about Holder and President Barack Obama 'benefitting enormously' because of their race was equal parts positive and negative, with about half of people on Twitter calling him 'racist' because there were no African-Americans present for the debate on Fox News Sunday.
" 'In other words, in order to discuss this, you have to have an African-American present,' Hume added. 'But if you’re just white, then discussing this is racist.' . . . O’Reilly went on to agree with Hume’s basic premise. . . ."
- Wayne Bennett, the Field Negro: It's good to be black.
- Ta-Nehisi Coates blog, the Atlantic: Barack Obama's Challenge to American Morality
- Stanley Crouch, Daily News, New York: America's perpetual adolescence
- Roland S. Martin, Creators Syndicate: GOP: Dial 1-800-Ask-A-Black-Man Before Commenting on Race
- Evan McMurry, Mediaite: Brit Hume: Obama, Holder 'Benefited Enormously' From Being African American
- Evan McMurry, Mediaite: George Will: Liberals Have Race-Baiting 'Tourette’s Syndrome'
- Media Matters for America: Fox's Brit Hume: Obama Uses Race As "A Sword" To "Attack Others"
"Powerful stuff today, via The Atlantic, from former MLB player and current ESPN baseball analyst Doug Glanville," Richard Horgan wrote Monday for FishbowlNY.
"The athlete-turned-author-turned-broadcaster details a very unpleasant recent encounter with a wayward patrol cop, who assumed the black man shoveling snow in front of a certain West Hartford residence must be hustling for bucks.
"From Glanville's piece:
" 'After getting legal advice from my neighbor and my wife, I ruled out any immediate action. In fact, I was hesitant to impulsively share my story with anyone I knew, let alone my media friends at ESPN or the New York Times. I hoped to have a meaningful, productive conversation with West Hartford leaders — something that might be hard to achieve if my story turned into a high-profile controversy. Instead, I asked my neighbor to help me arrange a meeting with the West Hartford officials. I arrived at Town Hall, I was flanked by my neighbor and my wife. They came as supporters, but it helped that they were also attorneys…
" 'In a sense, the shoveling incident was a painful reminder of something I’ve always known: My biggest challenge as a father will be to help my kids navigate a world where being black is both a source of pride and a reason for caution. I want them to have respect for the police, but also a healthy fear — at least as long as racial profiling continues to be an element of law enforcement. But I also want them to go into the world with a firm sense of their own self-worth. . . .'
"Lots more in the essay, including the reaction of Glanville’s mother and how this incident reminded him of something that happened to him as a kid at summer camp. Read the full piece here."
"Looks like the Los Angeles Register staff falls a little short," Phillip Blanchard wrote Sunday on his Testy Copy Editors blog under the headline "Diversity."
Mary Ann Milbourn reported over the weekend in the Orange County Register, "The Los Angeles Register, a new daily newspaper, will debut Wednesday in Freedom Communications' latest expansion in Southern California.
"Freedom owns the Orange County Register.
"Publisher Aaron Kushner said he is launching a Los Angeles newspaper because it makes good business sense and will introduce residents in the nation's second largest city to the Register's style of community-based journalism.
“ 'We are going to bring our fabulous brand of local journalism and political perspective to a very large market,' Kushner said.
Donna Wares, managing editor of the Orange County Register, could not be reached for comment on Monday.
According to the 2010 Census, the city of Los Angeles was 9.6 percent black or African American, 0.7 percent American Indian or Alaska Native, 11.3 percent Asian American, 48.5 percent Hispanic or Latino and 28.7 percent white only, not Hispanic or Latino. Another 4.6 percent said they were two or more races.
In his weekly radio address, President Obama dropped mention of the 77-cent figure he had been using as the amount of money that women made for every dollar a man earned, Glenn Kessler reported Sunday in his "Fact Checker" column in the print edition of the Washington Post.
Kessler had given the president two "Pinocchios" for the statement in the online version of the "Fact Checker" that appeared last week.
"From a political perspective, the Census Bureau's 77-cent figure is golden," Kessler wrote. "Unless women stop getting married and having children, and start abandoning careers in childhood education for naval architecture, this huge gap in wages will almost certainly persist. Democrats thus can keep bringing it up every two years.
"There appears to be some sort of wage gap and closing it is certainly a worthy goal. But it’s a bit rich for the president to repeatedly cite this statistic as an 'embarrassment.' . . . The president must begin to acknowledge that '77 cents' does not begin to capture what is actually happening in the work force and society. . . ."
Meanwhile, Daniel Holloway of Broadcasting & Cable wrote that the Writers Guild of America, in its 2014 Hollywood Writers Report released Monday, found:
- "Female writers earned 82 cents for every dollar earned by male writers in 2012 — up from 77 cents in 2009.
- "The percentage of employed writers who are minorities grew from 10% in 2009 to 11% in 2012.
- "Minority writers earned 83 cents for every dollar earned by white writers in 2012 — up from 78 cents in 2009, but down from 92 cents in 2011. . . ."
Bernie Lunzer, president of the Newspaper Guild, Communications Workers of America, told Journal-isms on Friday that the pay disparity between men and women and among the races has nearly vanished from newspaper newsrooms.
In an interview with Good Housekeeping magazine, "Good Morning America" anchor Robin Roberts linked her coming out as gay in December to a renewed appreciation for the value of life after her bone marrow transplant.
"Shortly after I posted about my relationship with Amber [Laign] on Facebook last year, I showed a picture of us with my niece — who'd gotten married in Baton Rouge, LA — on GMA," Roberts said in an interview with Jane Francisco.
"It was like a beautiful family picture. I was so moved that people got it and said, 'You're happy.' Others, though, were asking, 'Why didn't you say something about her before? Why are you only recognizing her now?' News flash: Some people like their anonymity. This is what's right for me. Love is love, and I'm grateful to have that. Sometimes there's a stigma attached to how people view you if you're living a certain way. But I don't care — you gotta live your life. You gotta find what happiness is and what it means for you, and you can't get caught up in what someone is saying about you on Twitter. You don't go through a year like I did to not be happy and not make your own choices. . . ."
- About 200 people participated in the journalism job fair co-sponsored by the District of Columbia chapters of the National Association of Black Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Asian American Journalists Association, National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association and Society of Professional Journalists, according to Brandon Benavides, the NAHJ chapter president. He said the number of participants exceeded expectations among recruiters and job-seekers, some of whom came from other cities. The event was officially called the "Washington, D.C. Job Fair hosted by Georgetown University's Master's Journalism Program."
- "Univision is launching an English-language video channel today called TheFlama.com with an eye on Hispanics between ages 15 and 30," Christopher Heine reported Monday for AdWeek. "Condom maker Trojan is the cross-programming launch partner for the online endeavor, while McDonald's is sponsoring the funny-minded show, Super Accurate Soccer History. The initiative builds on the youngster-targeted, English-language television channel, Fusion, which Univision debuted last fall in conjunction with Disney. . . ."
- Marie Arana, former editor of the Washington Post's Book World section, won the 2013 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for biography for "Bolivar: American Liberator" (Simon & Schuster). The ceremony took place Friday at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.
- Dwight A. Dugas, news director at KLFY-TV in Lafayette, La., is stepping down for another unspecified job at the station, Dugas told Journal-isms on Monday. The changes come as a result of the merger of Media General and LIN Media in a $1.6 billion cash and stock deal that will create the nation’s second-largest pure-play broadcast group, with 74 stations. In 2008, Dugas became the first African American television news director in Southwest Louisiana.
- "The ongoing standoff over Pacifica's leadership reached the California courts last week, opening what could become a protracted legal battle over the Pacifica Foundation board of directors' decision to fire executive director Summer Reese," Ben Mook reported Monday for Current.org. "Reese, who has defied the board's March 14 vote to fire her and taken up residence in Pacifica headquarters in Berkeley, filed a civil lawsuit in Alameda County, seeking a restraining order to reverse the board’s decision. . . ."
- "Now we REALLY know that NBC's Saturday Night Live does not give a crap when it comes to mocking Latinos," contributors to the Latino Rebels website wrote on Sunday. "A few weeks back, we saw a non-Latina (Cecily Strong) fail with perhaps one of the most unfunny loud Latina stereotypes. Last night, it happened again with non-Latino Kenan Thompson doing a heavily accented and over-the-top Dominicano version of Red Sox slugger David 'Big Papi' Ortiz. . . ."
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