Last updated October 2017
As the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service was announced, Roy Harris interviewed the lead reporter for the New York Daily News, who had done the winning work in collaboration with ProPublica. Here is his story for the Poynter Institute website, focusing on Sarah Ryley, who has now moved on to a nonprofit journalism center called The Trace. Prior to the Prizes being announced Harris prepared his annual Pulitzer Preview for Poynter.
He also conducted a Q&A with outgoing Pulitzer Prize administrator Mike Pride, followed by a similar interview with his successor, Dana Canedy.
As the year progressed, he also continued to talk about the Pulitzers with journalism students and others, including in classes and programs at Texas Christian University and at Penn State University.
After a full year celebrating the Pulitzer Prizes’ 100th anniversary—and his new edition of Pulitzer’s Gold, out from Columbia U. Press—Harris led a major December 6th panel event at New York City’s 92nd Street Y. The discussion featured the top executives of two New York-based institutions: New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger and Associated Press CEO Gary Pruitt. (Pictured are Harris, Sulzberger and Pruitt.) They were joined by Pulitzer-winning Times reporter David Barstow and AP reporter Margie Mason, who was on the team that won the 2016 Public Service Pulitzer. That prize was for the AP's “Seafood from Slaves” project, which showed how slave labor was involved with catching fish that routinely reached American supermarkets. Watch the entire 90-minute 92nd Street Y program on the pulitzer.org site.
On September 13–14, 2016 the St. Louis University Law School hosted seminars that featured the Pulitzer's Gold author in the Missouri city, which also was a key stop in Joseph Pulitzer's career. Indeed, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was the first newspaper he owned, and the work of its staff contributed much to the Pulitzer tradition in the U.S.
On September 8, 2016, Harris teamed with Pulitzer biographer James McGrath Morris to present a program in Bar Harbor, Maine, the town where Pulitzer dreamed up the idea for the prizes he would eventually establish in his will. “Bar Harbor: Birthplace of the Pulitzers” was the title of the Maine event at the Jesup Memorial Library. Earlier in the day they were interviewed by Maine Public Radio's Jennifer Rooks.
At the Investigative Reporters and Editors national conference in New Orleans on June 16, 2016, Harris moderated a program called “From Lone Wolf to Team Player”. The panel – featuring journalists Jim Steele, James V. Grimaldi and Jennifer LaFleur – offered a fascinating discussion of the evolution of investigative reporting.
With the 2016 Pulitzer Prize announcement having just passed, Harris talked on May 6 to a luncheon group at his alma mater, Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. The program covered Medill graduates who'd been involved with winning public service prizes over the first century of the Pulitzers.
After the Associated Press was named the Public Service Pulitzer-winner for its “Seafood from Slaves” project, Harris wrote about the choice in a celebration of the Pulitzer centennial for The News Literacy Project.
With the approach of the Pulitzer season – which also marked the centennial of the nation's oldest and most respected annual awards – his traditional Pulitzer Preview for the Poynter Institute cited many of the eventual winners.
In the run-up to the April 18, 2016 Pulitzer announcement he was interviewed twice by NPR. This
As the Pulitzers began to celebrate their centennial in Washington, D.C. in January 2016, just as the new edition of Pulitzer's Gold came out, he was invited to prepare for the Pulitzer.org website this article on the Harris family's Pulitzer Prize history.
Also, here is his interview with Chris Adams of the National Press Foundation in Washington, about the key place of the Public Service Prize among the Pulitzer awards. After the official “kick-off” of the Pulitzer centennial at Washington's Newseum, Harris appeared there in a January 30 program titled “Inside Media: 100 Years of Pulitzers.”
The week before the Pulitzer celebrations began, Harris sat down with WBZ radio host Jordan Rich in a wide-ranging discussion of the book.
After viewing a preview of “Spotlight” – a movie based on the Boston Globe's Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting on the sexual abuse of youngsters by Catholic priests – Harris wrote for the Poynter Institute journalism site with his views. The story offered detail on the Globe reporting, which is extensively covered in Pulitzer's Gold as one of the great pieces of team journalism of recent years. For the website of The News Literacy Project, a program aimed at helping high-schoolers critically evaluate news reports, Harris also wrote about “teachable moments” from the movie, which won the 2016 Academy Award for Best Picture.
After the 2015 Pulitzer Prizes were announced on April 20, Harris profiled Charleston, South Carolina’s Post and Courier, the winner in the Public Service category for its powerful series on the shocking level of domestic violence in the state.
Leading up to the 2015 awards he also wrote his traditional Pulitzer Preview for the Poynter.org website, and updated that preview as the Pulitzer announcement neared. How did first-year Pulitzer Prize administrator Mike Pride do with the 2015 prizes? Harris wrote about that as well, in a report called “Looking at the Pulitzers with Pride.” Harris also commented on the first Pulitzer in 26 years won by his first newspaper, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, for Breaking News Photography covering Ferguson, Mo., rioting.
The controversial 2014 selection of both the Washington Post and The Guardian U.S. to win the Public Service Pulitzer – for their coverage of widespread secret surveillance by the U.S. government – led media reporters to seek out Harris for his thoughts. He was quoted in the Post, in the Wall Street Journal, on the Daily Beast, in a National Public Radio story, and was part of a video discussion on Huffington Post. Poynter.org also noted his thoughts about Pulitzer categories in which there are no winners.
In setting the stage on Poynter.org on Poynter.org for the 2014 Pulitzer announcement, his preview studied prospects across the range of journalism prize prospects. And in a Sunday, April 13 piece for the Washington Post – Five Myths About the Pulitzer Prizes – Harris also discussed misconceptions associated with the journalism Pulitzer Prizes.
As the 2013 Pulitzer Prize announcement approached, Parade Magazine asked Roy Harris to select some of the top individual articles from the archive of Pulitzer-winners in the Public Service category.
With Harris’ help, the Florida-based journalism website Poynter.org has made something of a ritual out of preparing readers for each year’s Pulitzer Prizes. Here, he offered the 2013 Pulitzer Preview for Poynter.
For the Columbia Journalism Review’s online site, Harris interviewed members of the winning team of journalists, from the Sun Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Taking a step back and looking at the strange experience of covering this year’s Pulitzer Prize announcement – which came at precisely the same moment as the terrorist bombings at the Boston Marathon finish line – Harris penned this column for the Patriot-Ledger newspaper, based in Quincy, Mass. Harris followed both the Pulitzers and the Marathon attacks from his home in the Boston suburb of Hingham.
Roy Harris – Newseum Panelist with Washington Post Staffers
In an appearance at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., Harris joined Washington Post reporters Dana Priest and Anne Hull for a 2009 discussion of their work exposing abuses at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The Post won the Pulitzer in 2008 for their work.
After the announcement of the 2012 Pulitzer Prizes, Harris moderated his fifth straight annual online chat for WashingtonPost.com. He also was quoted by the national media reporting on the Pulitzers, including in this Associated Press story. In addition to writing that year’s Poynter.org, Pulitzer Preview, he wrote an article after the announcement about Pulitzer-winner Sara Ganim, and newsroom forces benefiting her paper, the Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Pa.
In an April program leading into the 2012 Pulitzer Season he discussed prize-wining prospects at a presentation at the James Library in Norwell, Mass.
The 9/11 Attacks Turn 10
The 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, spurred Harris to write for Poynter about some history-making press coverage that resulted in Pulitzer Prizes. He produced this account of what the New York Times did in the wake of 9/11 – including its creation of “Portraits of Grief” to remember the victims – to earn the paper the 2002 Pulitzer for Public Service. Harris also recounted how The Wall Street Journal produced a miraculous account of the terrorist attacks even though its newsroom was across the street from the targeted World Trade Center in Manhattan.
For a special Sept. 9 presentation of the WGBH-TV media panel “Beat the Press” in Boston, Harris contributed his thoughts for its retrospective on media coverage of the 9/11 attacks.
This April 17 Poynter.org curtain-raiser for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize announcements ran before Pulitzer Monday. Then on Tuesday he hosted the Washington Post’s online chat about the Pulitzers. Among the news articles citing Harris as a Pulitzer expert were the stories prepared by the Associated Press and by the Washington Post. New York Times public editor Art Brisbane quoted him in the paper’s analysis of how the Times writes about issues at rival newspapers.
In January 2011, Emerson College offered a course titled “Impact Journalism,” which he devised and prepared as an adjunct Emerson professor. The class studied a number of the cases from Pulitzer’s Gold, and used the book as a reader.
Appearances During 2010
In a 2010 report in Huffington Post, Harris discussed impressions he's gotten from talking with journalism students across the country – from Columbia in New York to Boston College, Boston University and Northeastern University; to the University of Missouri; to the West Coast journalism bastions of USC, Cal State Northridge and Cal State Fullerton. Everywhere, he wrote, students are eager to explore how reporters get their stories-of-a-lifetime – and they're a bit bewildered that such historic reporting lessons are so rarely taught these days.
On a Western swing in the fall of 2010, Roy Harris talked about public service journalism in three presentations. On October 6th, the Rancho Mirage Public Library presented a talk and book-signing by Harris to kick off of the library’s lecture series. Veteran journalist Dennis A. Britton, who joined Harris for the program, wrote this profile of the author and Pulitzer's Gold in the Palm Springs-based Desert Sun. That same evening, Harris discussed the book at Leo Baeck Temple in West Los Angeles in a program sponsored by the Leo Baeck Temple Community of Elders.
In analyzing the journalism that was awarded 2010 Pulitzer Prizes, the media often cited Pulitzer’s Gold and Harris. Editor & Publisher magazine not only drew on his analysis of what the prizes meant that year, but it included an excerpt from the book titled A Pulitzer Won with Blood. Harris wrote an Op-Ed for WashingtonPost.com on April 12th, the day of the awards. It appeared just before he again hosted the Post’s online reader discussion on the Pulitzers. As a commentator for Poynter.org, Harris profiled Daniel Gilbert, whose work was responsible for his paper, the Bristol, Va., Herald Courier, winning the year's Public Service Pulitzer. Harris also provided Poynter.org’s analysis of Pulitzer Day.
In the days leading up to the 2010 Pulitzers, National Public Radio's Robin Young, host of WBUR's Here and Now, interviewed Harris in Boston about the just-out paperback edition of Pulitzer's Gold. So did Southern California Public Radio's Patt Morrison, on her program for Los Angeles-based KPCC-FM on April 9th. Also, Harris summarized the situation in this article on the Poynter website, and followed that with an accounting of entries as the Pulitzer jurors began their meetings.
In late 2009 and early 2010, Harris focused on the threats to a strong investigative reporting function, and what news organizations can do to counter them. At New York's Columbia University, he guest-lectured at three classes, and wrote this Op-Ed for the student-operated Columbia Spectator. During two Southern California tours he talked to classes at Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Northridge, and the University of Southern California. This article ran on the front page of Fullerton's Daily Titan student newspaper.
Pulitzer's Gold and the Shaky Future of Public Service Journalism was the subject of Roy Harris's presentation at the Thomas Crane Public Library in Quincy, Mass., on Wednesday, April 7th, 2010, as that year's Pulitzer announcements approached.
An Appearance on C-Span Book TV
C-Span Book TV nationally aired a program on Pulitzer's Gold that was recorded at Brookline Booksmith on August 27th, 2009. It was noted in the Boston Globe's Off the Shelf book blog. In a panel presentation, Boston University professor Elizabeth Mehren and WBUR health and science reporter Sacha Pfeiffer joined author Harris in discussing journalism's great tradition, and what the future holds. Pfeiffer was a key member of the Boston Globe team that won the 2003 Pulitzer for exposing sexual misconduct by priests and the Church cover-up—a case explored in detail in the book.
Notable 2009 Appearances
• A June 9th reading from Pulitzer's Gold at Porter Square Books, Cambridge, Mass.
• His analysis of the 2009 Pulitzers by Harris ran as an Op Ed in the April 23rd Christian Science Monitor.
• An April 18th Op Ed article in the Los Angeles Times, introducing the Pulitzer announcements.
• A March 13th presentation to Nieman Fellows attending Harvard University's prestigious Cambridge-based journalism program.
• In Poynter articles that year discussed secrecy in the Pulitzer judging process; drew on interviews with staffers from the Las Vegas Sun, Pulitzer-winner in the public service category; and examined some of the year's “non-winners.” Harris also managed the Washington Post's April 21st online chat about the year's prizes.
The Newseum Calls
The year started with the Newseum, in Washington, D.C., featuring Harris in a Jan. 10th Inside Media program. He talked with Washington Post team members Dana Priest and Anne Hull, who produced the 2008 Gold Medal-winning series of articles exposing abuses at the Walter Reed Army Hospital.
It was the second of a series of Newseum programs being designed to feature Harris and winners of the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. On November 29th he appeared on a Newseum program with the Post's Jeff Leen, who has been involved with three public-service prizes during his career.
Charles Ponzi, Rod Blagojevich, and Other Items
The book's discussion of the key role of the press in exposing financial huckster Charles Ponzi — resulting in a 1921 Pulitzer Prize — has had Harris cited as an authority on that corner of American business history. For an article on Ponzi and the press, see the website of the Poynter Institute. Also, Harris discussed the topic in a February 2009 radio interview with Massachusetts-based WATD radio.
The scandal involving Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich also recalled past abuses in the Land of Lincoln — abuses that led to Pulitzer Prizes for Public Service. Harris wrote an article for the St. Louis Beacon making those connections.
At a Sept. 11th, 2008, celebration of the University of Missouri Journalism School's 100th anniversary, Harris served with Pulitzer winners on a panel titled The Pulitzer Prize and the Quality of American Journalism. Harris was interviewed about his participation by Sam Butterfield, who blogged about the event as a University of Missouri student.
One of Harris's most extensive 2008 television interviews, taped in Los Angeles, was for Connie Martinson Talks Books. Click here to see the interview program in a new window.
• NPR's popular Diane Rehm Show from the studios of WAMU, Washington, D.C., gave him and the book considerable attention earlier that month.
• National Public Radio's Leonard Lopate Show, from the studios of WNYC, New York, featured Harris on Jan. 30th.
• On April 17th at Boston's Northeastern University, Pulitzer's Gold was featured at the School of Journalism Reception and Awards Ceremony for graduates. And a YouTube recording was made of Roy Harris' Meet the Author presentation at Snell Library earlier in the day.
• In February 2008, Harris made an appearance with veteran network news anchor Carole Simpson at Emerson College's “Changing the Conversation” series.
Among Other Early Appearances Greeting Pulitzer’s Gold:
• Connecticut Public Radio's Faith Middleton featured Harris and Pulitzer's Gold on her Sept. 30th program.
• For a visit to St. Louis, he was interviewed by KMOX radio's Charlie Brennan, and by KWMU's Don Marsh.
• An interview with Guy Rathbun aired May 14th on San Luis Obisbo, Calif.'s KCBX-FM.
• Iowa Public Radio's "Talk at 12" program featured the book on March 17th.
• NPR's "Hear It Now," based in North Dakota, featured Pulitzer's Gold and Harris.
• Harris gave other interviews to WBZ's Jordan Rich in Boston, and to WATD, Marshfield, Mass
The Beginnings of Pulitzer Commentary
In Pulitzer’s Gold first year, the author frequently wrote articles or was cited in coverage of the April-announced Pulitzer Prizes, including:
• His April 12th critique of the 2008 Pulitzers, appearing in The Independent of London.
• April 8th New York Times coverage of the 2008 Pulitzer Prizes, by reporter Richard Pérez-Peña.
• An April 5th’s Boston Globe commentary by Harris, noting the importance of beat reporting to public-service journalism of the highest caliber.
• His April 2nd Christian Science Monitor commentary, accompanied by a podcast, observing how important courageous journalists have been in creating change in American society.
• An April 5th feature by Harris for Poynter Online: Some Pulitzer Surprises—for a Change.
• His first of what was to become an annual series of Pulitzer Prize chat lines was held for The Washington Post, which that year won the 2008 Pulitzer Public Service Gold Medal and five other Pulitzers.
Roy Harris remains actively involved in speaking to student and other groups. If you would like him to discuss the Pulitzer Prizes at a book group or other function, please contact him directly.