Cheers and Tears in the Newsroom - Pulitzer Prizes for Paper in New Orleans

Posted in Other | 20-Apr-06 | Author: Erhard Boettcher

Times-Picayune editor Jim Amoss, left, and page 1 editor Terry Baquet celebrate after learning the paper won two Pulitzers.

New Orleans - The journalists in the newsroom of „The Times-Picayune“ in the battered New Orleans cheered und wept at the same time. Editor-in-Chief James Amoss announced that the paper has won two treasured Pulitzer Prizes fort he excellent coverage of the devastating Hurricane Katrina in the late summer of 2005.

The “Picayune” gets a gold medal for its meritorious Public Service of the horrible cyclone and its aftermath. And a second award is directed at the Breaking News Reporting about a sudden dramatic event. The former prize dignifies the “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 other award especially recognizes the “courageous and aggressive coverage of Hurricane Katrina” by the staff, “overcoming desperate conditions facing the city and the newspaper.”

James O’Byrne described how his Editor-in-Chief acquainted the prizes. “The Times-Picayune newsroom erupted in applause when the awards were announced.” But within the next minutes, between many journalists quietly weeping, Amoss said: "Our celebration today is tempered by the knowledge that we lost so much - more than 1,000 people dead and our communities so deeply wounded."

And the boss added: "If there is a saving grace here, it's the love that tragedy lays bare - our love for each other, our love for this newspaper, our love for this community. We must love it back to life, and that's what we celebrate today." Amoss endorsed: "Katrina, the greatest urban disaster in America, dealt tragedy and bitter loss to our community and everyone in this room." And he stressed this: "As our city was being ravaged, our citizens dying, our market destroyed, our homes lost, with chaos and lawlessness reigning - while this was happening, we came together as a team, and fulfilled a mission that is sacred to us: to publish no matter what."

“The Times-Picayune” some months ago was a focus in a great pictorial report of the World Security Network about the aftermath of the catastrophy. The newsletter as well made a long interview with the Editor-in-Chief. Readers of a publishing house in Germany’s most northern state Schleswig-Holstein collected more than 130,000 Euro (more than 160,000 US-dollar) for facilities in New Orleans.

The Pulitzer Prize is an American award regarded as the highest honor in print journalism, literary achievements, and musical compositions. It is administered by the Columbia New York City University since 1917 and sometimes called the “Oscar” or the “Nobel Prize” for the media. The “Picayune” already got two awards in 1997. Prizes are given in 21 categories. The winner in the Public Service category gets a gold medal; the others receive a 10,000 dollar 10,000 cash award and a certificate. The prize was established by Joseph Pulitzer (1847 – 1911), a Hungarian-American journalist and newspaper publisher, who left money to the Columbia University.upon his death. A part of it was used to begin the university's journalism school. The recipients of the sought-after awards are chosen by an independent board.

(Internet: Pulitzer Prize: - The Times-Picayune: