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The key ingredients for award-​​winning journalism

Walter Robinson

The Pulitzer Prize, estab­lished in 1917 by pro­vi­sions in the will of news­paper pub­lisher Joseph Pulitzer, is the highest honor bestowed upon jour­nal­ists and news orga­ni­za­tions for their reporting achievements.

North­eastern Dis­tin­guished Pro­fessor of Jour­nalism Walter V. Robinson led The Boston Globe inves­tiga­tive reporting team that in 2002 uncov­ered the Roman Catholic clergy sexual abuse scandal. For their work, the Globe won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Ser­vice in 2003. Since then, he has had the oppor­tu­nity to help pick the win­ners of the Pulitzer Prize for Inves­tiga­tive Reporting.

You are tasked with reviewing extra­or­di­nary pieces of jour­nalism and it’s our job to find the best of those pieces,” said Robinson, who has served as an inves­tiga­tive reporter for more than 30 years. “It’s a priv­i­lege to be a part of that.”

In mid-​​February, Robinson and six other jurors spent two days at Columbia Uni­ver­sity, home of the Pulitzer Prize, poring over 80 inves­tiga­tive reporting entries. The team was tasked with selecting three final­ists to present to the Pulitzer board, which chooses the winner. This year’s winner was Chris Hamby of The Center for Public Integrity in Wash­ington, D.C., for a report on how some lawyers and doc­tors rigged a system to deny ben­e­fits to coal miners stricken with black lung disease.

Inves­tiga­tive reporting is much better today because there is so much infor­ma­tion and data avail­able. That makes it pos­sible for good reporters to go much deeper and report more broadly and with a lot more con­fi­dence,” Robinson said. “But I’d still say that what makes that kind of reporting really good is not just the data but the actual door knocking and inter­viewing that breathes life and cred­i­bility into the story.’’

In fact, while on co-​​op North­eastern jour­nalism stu­dents Zach Sampson, AMD’14, and Todd Feathers, AMD’15, con­tributed to the Globe’s cov­erage of the Boston Marathon bomb­ings and the after­math of the attack, for which the news­paper was awarded this year’s Pulitzer for Breaking News.

They each played impor­tant roles, as did everyone involved in this story at the Globe,” Robinson said. “They had assign­ments, they went out, and they did great reporting.”

Both stu­dents con­tributed to sev­eral arti­cles about the attacks, including the front-​​page story that ran the day after the tragedy and the sub­se­quent write-​​ups on the cap­ture of bombing sus­pect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

They have a lot to be proud of, as does the uni­ver­sity,” Robinson said. “You couldn’t find a better example of expe­ri­en­tial learning.”

Read the original story at news@Northeastern →