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2 Times Staffers Share Pulitzer for Beat Reporting

Honors: Stories on entertainment-industry corruption cited. Washington Post wins public-service award.

April 13, 1999|DAVID SHAW | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Other team efforts that won included those by the Miami Herald, in investigative reporting, for its coverage of "pervasive voter fraud in a city mayoral election that was subsequently overturned"; the Wall Street Journal, in international reporting, for its "in-depth, analytical coverage of the Russian financial crisis"; the Associated Press, in both spot news photography (for its "portfolio of images after the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania that illustrates both the horror and the humanity triggered by the event") and in feature photography (for its "striking collection of photographs of the key players and events stemming from President Clinton's affair with Monica S. Lewinsky and the ensuing impeachment hearings"); and the New York Times, in national reporting, "for a series of articles that disclosed the corporate sale of American technology to China, with U.S. government approval despite national security risks, prompting investigations and significant changes in policy."

The national reporting prize was awarded to the staff of the Times, but the citation singled out Jeff Gerth, the lead reporter on the project.

The New York Times won its second Pulitzer of the day--and its 79th overall, far more than any other news organization--when Maureen Dowd was given the commentary award for her "fresh and insightful columns on the impact of President Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky."

When she learned of her award, Dowd said she wanted to paraphrase "Monica Lewinsky's favorite poet, T.S. Eliot . . . April is the coolest month." She said she was grateful to Clinton for not having told Lewinsky, "Young lady, pull down that jacket and get back to the typing pool."

The Wall Street Journal's second Pulitzer of the day (and 21st overall) was won by Angelo B. Henderson in feature writing for "his portrait of a druggist who is driven to violence by his encounters with armed robbery." The Pulitzer board said this story illustrated "the lasting effects of crime."

Asian Economic Crisis Coverage Honored

Richard Read of the Portland Oregonian won in explanatory reporting for "vividly illustrating the domestic impact of the Asian economic crisis by profiling the local industry that exports frozen French fries."

Read followed one lot of potatoes from a processing plant in Oregon back to the growers and then on to Singapore, where it went to a McDonald's. The potatoes were originally destined for Indonesia, so Read went there too--"and I got there in time to cover people there moving another lot of French fries through the riots in Jakarta." The Oregnonian staff celebrated Monday with the traditional champagne--and 300 orders of French fries from the nearby McDonald's

Other Pulitzer Prize winners in journalism were Blair Kamin of the Chicago Tribune, in criticism, for his "lucid coverage of city architecture, including an influential series supporting the development of Chicago's lakefront area"; and David Horsey of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, in editorial cartooning.

The two reporters who shared the Los Angeles Times Pulitzer for their aggressive coverage of the entertainment industry followed dramatically different paths to their current jobs.

Michael Hiltzik, 46, has a master's degree from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and has been a reporter for The Times since 1981, working in Orange County, Los Angeles, New York, Nairobi and Moscow. He has been in the business section, where he previously worked, since 1994.

Chuck Philips, also 46, worked as a silk-screener until his business folded in 1985, then returned to college and chose journalism only, he says, because he was told that was "the quickest way to get a degree."

He also loved music, though, so when he graduated, he wrote a letter to Robert Hilburn, longtime pop music critic for The Times, and asked for a job.

"Hilburn wrote me back in two days and said he didn't have a job for me, but he'd like me to come in and talk." Philips was a freelance contributor to Calendar for five years before joining the business section as a fulltime reporter in 1995.

Philips and Hiltzik both praised their editor, Saylor, and his superiors at The Times for, in Hiltzik's words, "encouraging us to go full-bore every step of the way, delving into organizations that have a lot of influence." Saylor, Editor Michael Parks and Publisher Mark Willes praised Philips and Hiltzik for their hard work. Parks called their victory "a celebration of hard-nosed reporting."

One set of their stories showed that widely trumpeted charities sponsored by the Grammys and controlled by chief executive C. Michael Greene actually spent only pennies of each dollar on their stated goal of helping infirm, disabled and unemployed musicians.

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