Monday, April 25, 2016

PULITZER PRIZE - Two for Washington Post

"Washington Post honored for deep dive into fatal police shootings" PBS NewsHour 4/19/2016

Pulitzer Prize Categories:  National Reporting, and General Nonfiction ("Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS” by Erin Patrick O'Connor/The Washington Post)


SUMMARY:  The Washington Post picked up two Pulitzer Prizes on Monday, including one for national reporting on police shootings of civilians.  According to an innovative new database compiled by the Post, 990 civilians were fatally shot by police last year.  For more on the groundbreaking report, Judy Woodruff talks to Wesley Lowery of The Washington Post.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  And speaking of awards, let's look at some investigative reporting honored by this year's Pulitzer Prizes.

The Washington Post won two Pulitzers yesterday, including one for national reporting for a series on police shootings of civilians.  There had been little national data about those kind of shootings.

The Post created its own database that included these findings:  990 people were fatally shot by police last year.  One in six officers had been involved in a prior shooting.  In three-quarters of the cases, police were under attack or defending someone who was.

Wesley Lowery was one of The Washington Post's lead reporters on this.  He's part of a team of more than 60.  And he joins me now.

Congratulations, Wesley Lowery.

WESLEY LOWERY, The Washington Post:  Thank you so much.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Let's see.  How many years have you been reporting?

WESLEY LOWERY:  A few, but — a few, a handful.  So, I'm 25.  I have been at The Post for two years.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  And what was your reaction?

WESLEY LOWERY:  I was really excited.

This was a project that really was a newsroom-wide effort that involved a lot of different staffs, our investigative staff, our national desk, which I work for, our graphics and data development staffs as well.  It was just a really great team win.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  How did the idea for this come about?

WESLEY LOWERY:  So, this idea, this project was born in a lot of ways out of Ferguson, Missouri.

And I was one of our lead reporters on the ground in Missouri, as well as then in Baltimore, when there was the unrest there.  And in Ferguson, they were having this conversation where you had the police unions and the police chiefs saying at the time, this is a one-off anecdote.  We almost never shoot anybody.  Most officers never fire their guns.

And you had the civil rights groups and many of the activists and protesters saying, young black men are being executed in the streets every day.  This is an outrage.  We're being killed.

And so smart editors asked an obvious question, which is true.  We should know, right?  We should be able to provide some clarity to this debate.  And it turned out that we couldn't because no one was keeping track at the national level and also even at state levels.  No one knew exactly how many people were being killed by the police.

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