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A Plethora of Pulitzers

This past Monday on the campus of Washington and Lee, members of the Journalism Department, budding student journalists and two visitors had dinner together, courtesy of the Reynolds Foundation. It’s not unusual, of course, for W&L students to have face time with distinguished visitors. What made this dinner party out of the ordinary, however, was the number of Pulitzer Prize winners around the table.

One guest was reporter Daniel Gilbert. Now at the Wall Street Journal, he won the 2010 Pulitzer for public service when he worked at the Bristol (Va.) Herald Courier for his stories “illuminating the murky mismanagement of natural-gas royalties owed to thousands of land owners in southwest Virginia, spurring remedial action by state lawmakers,” as the Pulitzer website puts it.

Another guest was Jane Healy, the former editor of the editorial page at the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel. She received her Pulitzer in 1988 for her editorial writing in protest of the overdevelopment of Orange County.

And then there was Charlotte Hall, W&L’s current Reynolds Distinguished Visiting Professor. In 1995, when she worked at Newsday (Long Island, N.Y.), she supervised a two-person team that took the Pulitzer for investigative reporting “that revealed disability pension abuses by local police.” Hall is teaching a course on opinion writing this term.

Rounding out this illustrious group was W&L’s own Pam Luecke, the Donald W. Reynolds Professor of Business Journalism. When Pam was an editor and the senior vice president of the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader, the paper won the 2000 Pulitzer for editorial cartooning, and she has supervised two Pulitzer projects during her editorial career. Pam joined W&L in 2001 and is now the head of the Journalism Department.

Perhaps the influence of all these superb yet modest journalists rubbed off on the students in attendance, and one day we’ll be writing about their Pulitzer Prizes.

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