On Monday of this week, The Baltimore Sun won the Pulitzer Prize for local reporting.
Its series of articles on Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh’s fraudulent children’s book scheme led to the mayor’s resignation and guilty plea to federal charges. Beyond that, they exposed a culture of self-dealing among board members of the University of Maryland Medical System, after which the CEO and three board members resigned, and the board was reconstituted with strict ethics procedures.
This was not the work of the kind of teeming newsroom I joined when I first took a seat at The Sun‘s copy desk in 1986, but the accomplishment of the severely pared-down staff of a newspaper that has been undergoing repeated reductions in resources for more a decade and a half. That makes the staff’s accomplishment the more meaningful, the more remarkable.
My part in this achievement is minor compared to the work of the team of reporters and photographers who accomplished the work, or of the editors who encouraged and oversaw them. But many of the stories passed through my hands for a final look, a final check, before publication. As small a role as mine has been, I take pride that I contributed something toward the paper’s achievement, just as I took pride in having been a copy editor on many of the articles for which Diana Sugg won a Pulitzer Prize in 2003. We all do our part.
We are still working to provide readers with verified information about the world around them, information that they can use to make informed decisions. As the business environment of newspapers becomes more precarious, we have to work all the harder to accomplish that. And we do. We’re still here.