Black Journalists’s Pulitzers

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The National Association Of Black  Journalists congratulates President Bryan Monroe and other NABJ members for being part of the Knight Ridder team and staff of the Sun Herald in Biloxi, Miss., that earned a Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal for Public Service, the highest award in journalism.

NABJ also salutes Robin Givhan of The Washington Post for winning the Pulitzer Prize for criticism as well as those NABJ members that helped the The Times-Picayune of New Orleans win two Pulitzers, including a gold medal for public service and another prize in the breaking news category. In awarding her a prize worth $10,000, the Pulitzer Board cited Givhan "for her witty, closely observed essays that transform fashion criticism into cultural criticism."

The Pulitzer board cited the Sun Herald/Knight Ridder team "for its valorous and comprehensive coverage of Hurricane Katrina, providing a lifeline for devastated readers, in print and online, during their time of greatest need." The board awarded The Times-Picayune staff its gold medal "for its heroic, multi-faceted coverage of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, making exceptional use of the newspaper's resources to serve an inundated city even after evacuation of the newspaper plant." The board said the same staff earned a Pulitzer for breaking news "for its courageous and aggressive coverage of Hurricane Katrina, overcoming desperate conditions facing the city and the newspaper."

On Aug. 29, 2005, the day Katrina devastated the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts, Monroe, assistant vice president/news for Knight Ridder, led a team of reporters and photographers into South Mississippi to help the Sun Herald continue to publish throughout the storm. The paper did not miss a day of publication, despite having no running water, sewer, telephone or Internet and limited power from a generator. During the first few days after the storm hit, the staff slept on the floor of the newsroom and ate only cold cuts, Pop Tarts and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

NABJ members joining the Sun Herald staff to work in the early days of Katrina coverage included Mizell Stewart, managing editor, Akron Beacon Journal; Mike McQueen, former managing editor, The Telegraph in Macon, Ga.; Cathy Straight, former managing editor, Pioneer Press in St. Paul, Minn.; Brandi Jade Thomas, photographer, Pioneer Press; Audra Burks, reporter, The Miami Herald, and Ben Holden, editor of the Ledger-Enquirer in Columbus, Ga.

Members contributing to the prize-winning coverage for the Times-Picayune included Terry Baquet, page one editor; Jarvis DeBerry, editorial writer; Lolis Eric Elie, columnist; Andrea Shaw, West Bank bureau chief, and reporters Leslie Williams, Rhonda Nabonne, Trymaine Lee, Rob Nelson and Michelle Hunter.

"This is a great day for the Pulitzers and a great day for NABJ," said NABJ Vice President-Print Ernie Suggs, a reporter at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Just talking to Trymaine Lee of the Times-Picayune was an incredible experience, to listen to his joy, coupled with the reality of what happened to all of those people in New Orleans in the wake of Katrina. And NABJ is so proud of president Bryan Monroe and Robin Givhan for their much- deserved Pulitzers. Their work is indicative of the strong work our members do every day, every year."

Lee is a metro police and crime reporter who remained in New Orleans thoughout the whole Katrina ordeal, covering events all over the city, including the horrors of the Superdome. "It is bitter sweet," Lee said of the Pulitzer honor. "I have only been a reporter for about three years and to be able to be a part of something so serious is beautiful. The win feels good, but as a human being, as a Black man, it was tough."

Sun Herald Executive Editor Stan Tiner praised the NABJ members for doing "incredible journalism" in Biloxi after the hurricane. "I wish to pay special tribute to Bryan Monroe and the team of photographers and journalists sent to the region," Tiner said. "They were an exceptional group of professional and responsible journalists."

An advocacy group established in 1975 in Washington, D.C., NABJ is the largest organization of journalists of color in the nation, with more than 4,000 members, and provides educational, career development and support to Black journalists worldwide.

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