IU journalism course features Pulitzer Prize winners, who will also present public talks

  • Jan. 17, 2014


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A new class at Indiana University this semester will bring Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists to the Bloomington campus to share their storytelling techniques. J360 "Behind the Prize" will be taught by professor of practice Tom French, himself a Pulitzer winner.

"Journalism is in transition," said French, who earned the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing in 1998. "This class is a way to put the spotlight on journalism, and to give students insight to the story behind the story."

Six winners, one finalist and the chair of the Pulitzer board will present their work and journalistic philosophies to the class. French will use his own experience and describe his winning project, "Angels and Demons," a series about the murder of a woman and her two daughters. He’ll also share the follow-up to that story, including his attending and covering the murderer’s execution years later.

As part of the course, each journalist will give a public talk in the auditorium of Ernie Pyle Hall, 940 E. Seventh St. All talks will begin at 4 p.m. Sessions are free, but space is limited. To attend your choice of up to three sessions, register at journalism.indiana.edu/prize.

Here is the schedule:

  • Wednesday, Jan. 22: IU journalism alumnus and Washington Post director of photography Michel du Cille, BA’85, a three-time winner. He shared the Pulitzer Prize in Spot News Photography with fellow Miami Herald staff photographer Carol Guzy on coverage of the Nevado Del Ruiz volcano eruption in Colombia. In 1988, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography for his photo essay on crack cocaine addicts in a Miami housing project. In 2008, he shared the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service with writers Anne Hull and Dana Priest of The Washington Post for their work exposing mistreatment of wounded veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. His staff of photographers won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography for their work depicting the aftermath of an earthquake in Haiti.
  • Feb. 5: The Washington Post's David Finkel, who won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for his three-part series about a U.S.-funded program to encourage democracy in Yemen. He has been a Pulitzer finalist three other times for explanatory writing and feature writing. Finkel is the author of "The Good Soldiers," an account of being imbedded with the 2-16 Rangers in Baghdad during the 2007 “surge,” and the just-published "Thank You for Your Service," in which he follows some of the same soldiers as they return home and try to reintegrate to their jobs and families. Finkel, the recipient of a MacArthur Genius Award in 2012, is also giving two lectures at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 4 and 6 on the Bloomington campus as part of the William T. Patten Lecture Series.
  • Feb. 12: Journalism alumnus and Tampa Bay Times CEO Paul Tash, BA’76, who is the new chairman of the Pulitzer Prize board and has served as a juror for several years. Tash also is chairman of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, which owns Times Publishing. From his years as editor and executive editor through today, Tash led the Times when it won several Pulitzers, including one earlier this year for a series of editorials prompting local government to return fluoride to the public water supply. 
  • Feb. 19: Kelley Benham, formerly of the Tampa Bay Times, who was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2013 for her series, "Never Let Go." Documenting the experience of families with babies born prematurely, Benham used her own experience -- the early birth of her daughter with Tom French -- to illustrate the issue.
  • March 5: John Branch, The New York Times, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing this year for “Snow Fall,” about a fatal avalanche in the Cascade Mountains in Washington State. The package integrated multimedia in a seamless way that captured attention, but Branch won for his reporting. He was a finalist for the prize the previous year for his series "Punched Out," which shed light on violence in hockey through the story of pro player Derek Boogaard.
  • March 12: French will recount his own experience for his story, which won the prize in 1998.
  • March 26: Lane DeGregory, Tampa Bay Times feature writer who won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing for “The Girl in the Window,” about a 7-year-old victim of severe neglect. She visited French’s class last week to talk about the craft of the in-depth feature story.
  • April 16: Sonia Nazario, who won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing for her series in the Los Angeles Times about a Honduran teen who traveled to Florida to find his mother, who had entered the U.S. illegally to find work. The series and ensuing book, "Enrique's Journey," has been used in high school and college classrooms to illustrate immigration issues. She also will speak as part of the School of Journalism's Speaker Series later that day at 7 p.m. at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater, 114 E. Kirkwood Ave.

“These people aren’t just amazing reporters and journalists, but they are amazing speakers,” French said of the line-up.

The class format will consist of reading the work of the guest speakers, preparing questions for the discussions and assessing the winners’ presentations. The class was open to all majors and included a graduate level version.

“All of these journalists will talk about their work, the craft and ethics,” French said. “Directly or implicitly, they will talk about why in-depth journalism matters.”

Related Links

Tom French

Tom French | Photo by Nicholas Demille

Print-Quality Photo

Michel du Cille

Michel du Cille

Print-Quality Photo

Sonia Nazario

Sonia Nazario

Print-Quality Photo

Media Contacts

George Vlahakis

  • IU Communications
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  • Cell 812-345-1500
  • vlahakis@iu.edu
  • IU Inc.

Anne Kibbler

  • IU School of Journalism
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  • akibbler@indiana.edu