Repub­lic wins Pulitzer for 2017’s ‘Wall’ se­ries

Repub­lic, USA TO­DAY NET­WORK awarded Pulitzer Prize for se­ries ex­plor­ing im­pacts of Trump’s border-wall plan

The Arizona Republic - - Front Page - Anne Ry­man

The Ari­zona Repub­lic and the USA TO­DAY NET­WORK on Mon­day were awarded the most pres­ti­gious prize in Amer­i­can jour­nal­ism, the Pulitzer Prize, for their re­port­ing on Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s pro­posed border wall.

“The Wall: Un­known sto­ries, Un­in­tended con­se­quences,” a spe­cial re­port from 2017, won the Pulitzer Prize for ex­plana­tory re­port­ing.

Jour­nal­ists trav­eled the length of the border by air and ground, doc­u­ment­ing it all on video. Other teams from USA TO­DAY NET­WORK news­rooms in ev­ery border state ven­tured across Mex­ico and the Amer­i­can South­west. They spent months re­port­ing on ex­ist­ing se­cu­rity and the pos­si­ble im­pacts of a wall on life, com­merce, smug­gling and prop­erty rights.

The project was pub­lished in a col­lec­tion of more than a dozen sto­ries and doc­u­men­tary videos, a pod­cast se­ries and a spe­cial pre­sen­ta­tion in vir­tual re­ali-

ty, which al­lowed users to im­merse them­selves in lo­ca­tions along the border.

The cen­ter­piece of the re­port was a dig­i­tal map that showed high-def­i­ni­tion video of ev­ery foot of the 2,000-mile line to doc­u­ment all ex­ist­ing border fenc­ing — be­fore any new con­struc­tion un­der the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The judges said the award was given, “For vivid and timely re­port­ing that mas­ter­fully com­bined text, video, pod­casts and vir­tual re­al­ity to ex­am­ine, from mul­ti­ple per­spec­tives, the dif­fi­cul­ties and un­in­tended con­se­quences of ful­fill­ing Pres­i­dent Trump’s pledge to con­struct a wall along the U.S. border with Mex­ico.”

The Repub­lic has been a fi­nal­ist for the Pulitzer Prize twice in re­cent years, for break­ing news cov­er­age of the 2013 Yar­nell Hill Fire and the 2011 as­sas­si­na­tion at­tempt of then-Rep. Gabrielle Gif­fords.

The re­port­ing in “The Wall” aimed not to take a side on whether the wall was a good or bad idea, but to ex­am­ine its pos­si­ble ef­fects in great de­tail.

The ae­rial video an­a­lyzed by the net­work showed in up-close de­tail how most of the vast border re­mains un­fenced and es­sen­tially unse­cured.

Re­porters also re­vealed new data about the im­pacts of border se­cu­rity. They an­a­lyzed dig­i­tal prop­erty records from ev­ery Texas border county to de­ter­mine some 5,000 parcels of prop­erty — in a state where al­most all land is pri­vately owned — might have to be seized or dis­rupted by wall con­struc­tion.

They re­viewed records from med­i­cal ex­am­in­ers, coun­ties, sher­iff ’s of­fices and jus­tices of the peace along the border to prove fed­eral border agents have in­ten­tion­ally un­der­counted the num­ber of mi­grants who die cross­ing each year. In some ar­eas the ac­tual num­ber of deaths is triple the num­ber fed­eral of­fi­cials re­port.

Other re­port­ing ex­am­ined life along the border up close. Teams spent time with Border Pa­trol agents as­signed to for­ward op­er­at­ing bases, with vig­i­lantes who roam the hills on their own, with Na­tive Amer­i­cans whose lands have been di­vided by border fenc­ing, and with the fam­ily of a fed­eral agent killed in a shootout with border ban­dits.

One re­port­ing team fol­lowed an Amer­i­can woman as she searched the Ari­zona desert in sum­mer­time for the body of her brother, who had dis­ap­peared try­ing to cross from Mex­ico.

A team also did a rare face-to-face in­ter­view with a hu­man smug­gler on the Cal­i­for­nia border, who ex­plained that a wall would not slow his busi­ness — be­cause he could charge even more for help­ing peo­ple cross into the U.S.

A hall­mark of “The Wall” was its use of many pub­lish­ing for­mats, in­clud­ing text, in­ter­ac­tive graph­ics, video and au­dio. That work con­tin­ued be­yond 2017. Last week, the Freep Film Festival in Detroit fea­tured the world premiere of “The Wall,” a full-length doc­u­men­tary based on the net­work’s re­port­ing.

“I’m proud The Ari­zona Repub­lic and the USA TO­DAY NET­WORK could bring this im­por­tant work to the coun­try,” said Ni­cole Car­roll, who launched the spe­cial re­port as edi­tor and vice pres­i­dent for news at The Repub­lic and az­cen­ “The de­bate con­tin­ues over the idea of build­ing a wall, and the pub­lic needs the facts.

“I’m also thrilled for all the jour­nal­ists in­volved. This was a true team ef­fort, and ev­ery sin­gle per­son worked in­cred­i­bly hard to bring this project to life. We are hon­ored that the Pulitzer Prize board hon­ored this work.”

Car­roll­was named the Ben­jamin C. Bradlee Edi­tor of the Year by the Na­tional Press Foun­da­tion in 2017, in honor of her lead­er­ship, in­clud­ing her work on “The Wall.” She is now edi­tor-in-chief of USA TO­DAY.

The ex­ten­sive re­port­ing and dig­i­tal in­no­va­tion within “The Wall” have al­ready earned it other na­tion­wide hon­ors, in­clud­ing a Scripps Howard Award for in­no­va­tion, the Punch Sulzberger Award for on­line sto­ry­telling and a Na­tional Head­liner award for in­no­va­tion.

Repub­lic staffers have won Pulitzer Prizes for edi­to­rial car­toon­ing twice: Steve Ben­son in 1993 and Reg Manning in 1951. This year’s ex­plana­tory Pulitzer is the first news­roomwide win.

The border-wall project was one of three Pulitzers won by the USA TO­DAY NET­WORK, which was also rec­og­nized for in-depth cov­er­age of the heroin epi­demic and for edi­to­rial writ­ing on health care. Net­work news­pa­pers also were fi­nal­ists for na­tional re­port­ing and for edi­to­rial car­toon­ing.

The Cincin­nati En­quirer’s “Seven Days of Heroin: This Is What An Epi­demic Looks Like” won the prize for lo­cal re­port­ing. The pack­age, which in­cluded pow­er­ful pho­tog­ra­phy and long­form video, doc­u­mented the opi­oid epi­demic’s grip on the area.

Des Moines Reg­is­ter edi­to­rial writer Andie Dominick was awarded the edi­to­rial writ­ing prize for a se­lec­tion of Iowafo­cused ed­i­to­ri­als about health care, from the gover­nor’s pri­va­ti­za­tion of Med­i­caid to state law­mak­ers’ ef­forts to im­pede fe­tal tis­sue re­search to how the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s han­dling of the Af­ford­able Care Act jeop­ar­dized ac­cess to cov­er­age.

“We are so proud of the work of the USA TO­DAY NET­WORK’s jour­nal­ists and hon­ored by the Pulitzer Board’s recog­ni­tion of their in­cred­i­ble feats of jour­nal­ism in 2017,” said Mari­bel Perez Wadsworth, pres­i­dent of the USA TO­DAY NET­WORK and pub­lisher of USA TO­DAY. “To have five net­work teams be rec­og­nized by the Pulitzer Prize board is a re­flec­tion of the am­bi­tion, im­pact and ex­cel­lence of our jour­nal­ism. Most im­por­tantly, the work cited brought il­lu­mi­na­tion to com­plex and trou­bling is­sues, helped to right wrongs, hu­man­ized some of the great­est chal­lenges faced by our na­tion and served as a cat­a­lyst for vi­tal di­a­logue.”


Repub­lic pho­tog­ra­pher Michael Chow pho­to­graphs rancher John Ladd (cen­ter) and re­porter Dennis Wag­ner. Wag­ner an­a­lyzed how a po­ten­tial wall would dis­rupt the lives of prop­erty own­ers at the border.


Mem­bers of the news­room of The Ari­zona Repub­lic and az­cen­ cel­e­brate the an­nounce­ment of their Pulitzer Prize vic­tory on Mon­day morn­ing. The honor was for ex­plana­tory re­port­ing.


USA TO­DAY top edi­tor Ni­cole Car­roll (cen­ter) and Net­work Pres­i­dent Mari­bel Perez Wadsworth (right), cel­e­brate Mon­day’s hon­ors.

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