Boston Globe awarded Pulitzer for coverage of clergy sexual abuse scandal
Washington Post, LA Times each win three prizes
By Associated Press, 4/7/2003
BOSTON -- The Boston Globe was awarded the 2003 Pulitzer for public service for its coverage of the church abuse scandal that rocked the Boston archdiocese, culminating with the resignation of Cardinal Bernard Law.
"You made history this past year. And you made the world a better and safer, and more humane place," Globe Editor Martin Baron told a packed newsroom that had gathered to await word about the award.
It was a story that consumed national media for the past year. But it was the case of John Geoghan, a defrocked priest who has since been convicted of sexual assault, that blew the story wide open.
Details of what the church knew about the case and the allegations remained secret at the insistence of church lawyers involved in civil lawsuits against Geoghan who insisted victims remain quiet and files remain closed.
But in November 2001, Globe attorneys persuaded Judge Constance M. Sweeney to reverse the confidentiality order in the case, unleashing a flood of church records. Several weeks later, the Globe began reporting on the contents of those documents, showing how top church officials shuttled Geoghan from parish to parish despite warnings about his behavior.
The Geoghan story prompted the release of thousands of pages of church files on dozens of other priests accused of abusing more than 400 victims who have sued the archdiocese, and the Globe's reporting on the breadth and depth of the scandal helped transform the story into an international scandal.
By the end of last year, the archdiocese had overhauled its sexual-abuse policies but also suffered incalculable damage to its prestige and strength after Law resigned and the lawsuits forced it to consider filing for bankruptcy.
Law resigned in mid-December after an onslaught of previously sealed personnel records showed that he and other church leaders knew about allegations against dozens of priests but continually shuffled them from parish to parish.
Monday's award was the 17th Pulitzer for the Globe, and its third for Public Service.
Globe staff gathered in the newsroom ahead of the announcement, convening around a computer terminal for first word of the coveted awards. When it was announced, Globe staff cheered, hugged and shook each other's hands.
"Reporters and editors who worked on this story were motivated by a passion to get at the truth. They overcame every obstacle with patience, ingenuity and endless drive, and they brought fairness and accuracy to a highly sensitive and difficult subject," Baron said. "Their work cut through a wall of church secrecy, gave voice to victims who had been ignored, and led to safeguards against abuse."
For breaking news, the staff of The Eagle-Tribune of Lawrence, Mass., won for stories on the accidental drownings of four boys in the Merrimack River. It was the 60,000-circulation newspaper's second Pulitzer; it also won in 1988.
The international reporting award went to The Washington Post's Kevin Sullivan and Mary Jordan, a married couple, for stories on Mexico's criminal justice system. Colbert I. King won for commentary for his columns "that speak to people in power with veracity and wisdom." And Stephen Hunter won the criticism Pulitzer for his "authoritative film criticism that is both intellectually rewarding and a pleasure to read."
Alan Miller and Kevin Sack of the Los Angeles Times won the national reporting award for their examination of a military aircraft, the Harrier, linked to the deaths of 45 pilots. The feature writing Pulitzer went to Sonia Nazario for a story about a Honduran boy's search for his mother, who had migrated to the United States. The feature photography prize went to Don Bartletti for his portrayal of undocumented Central American youths traveling north to the United States.
Clifford J. Levy of The New York Times won the investigative reporting prize for a series on the abuse of mentally ill adults in New York State-regulated homes.
The Wall Street Journal staff won for explanatory reporting for a series of stories on corporate scandals in America. The judges called the work "clear, concise and comprehensive stories" that brought to light "the roots, significance and impact of corporate scandals in America."
Health reporter Diana K. Sugg of The (Baltimore) Sun won for beat reporting for "stories that illuminated complex medical issues through the lives of people." It was the newspaper's 15th Pulitzer.
"One of Diana's greatest attributes is her empathy," said Bill Marimow, editor of The Sun. "I think she has a natural sympathy and compassion for people grappling with life-and-death issues."
Cornelia Grumman of the Chicago Tribune won the editorial prize for editorials against the death penalty.
The editorial cartooning award went to David Horsey of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for work "executed with a distinctive style and sense of humor." It was the newspaper's second Pulitzer; its first was won by Horsey in 1999.
"Just like in '99, I owed it all to Bill Clinton, so maybe this time it's all W," he said, referring to President Bush.
The photography staff of the Rocky Mountain News of Denver won the breaking news photography award for coverage of Colorado's forest fires.
Janet Reeves, photography director, said many staffers gave up personal time and canceled vacations to cover the wildfires. "They would work tirelessly," she said. "They just didn't stop pushing."
The prizes are awarded by Columbia University on recommendations of the Pulitzer board, which considers nominations from jurors in each category. Each prize is worth $7,500, except for public service, in which a paper receives a gold medal.
The Pulitzer Prize for biography was awarded to Robert A. Caro for "Master of the Senate," the third volume of his biography of Lyndon Johnson.
It was the second Pulitzer captured by Caro, who won in 1975 for his acclaimed biography "The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York."
"Master of the Senate" won the National Book Award in November. The third of four planned volumes, it deals with Johnson's rise from his election to national office in the late 1940s to his ascension as Senate majority leader in 1954.
"You know, there's been a lot of struggle in doing these books, a lot of attacks on me from the Johnson loyalists," Caro said. "But I think I always held onto what I learned in school, that if a book was done truly enough, it would endure."
The Pulitzer for drama went to "Anna in the Tropics" by Nilo Cruz, a teacher at Yale University.
"Anna in the Tropics" is a play set in Florida in 1930. The romantic drama deals with a family of cigar makers whose loves and lives are played out against the backdrop of America in the midst of the Depression.
The prize for fiction went to Jeffrey Eugenides for "Middlesex," a story about the life of a hermaphrodite. His first novel, "The Virgin Suicides," was an international best seller. Eugenides, a Detroit native, now lives in Berlin with his wife and daughter.
The Pulitzer for history went to "An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943," by Rick Atkinson. He won a Pulitzer in journalism -- for national reporting -- in 1982 when he was at the Kansas City Times.
Atkinson, who more recently was assistant managing editor for investigations at The Washington Post, wrote most of that paper's lead stories during the first Gulf War.
The general nonfiction prize was captured by "'A Problem From Hell:' America and the Age of Genocide," by Samantha Power, a former war correspondent. The Winthrop, Mass., resident is executive director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
The prize for music went to "On the Transmigration of Souls," by John Adams, a tribute to victims, survivors and heroes of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that was premiered by the New York Philharmonic on Sept. 19, 2002. Adams, 56, is best known for his Grammy-winning 1987 opera "Nixon in China."
And the winner for poetry was "Moy Sand and Gravel" by Paul Muldoon, a former BBC radio and television producer who moved to the United States from Northern Ireland in 1987.
He's the director of the creative writing program at Princeton University.
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