Many of the finest journalistic achievements in history are recognized with the Pulitzer Prize, and Colorado State University graduates continue to honor the university with success in the Pulitzer program.
Most recently in 2014, two department graduates earned Pulitzer Prizes for separate journalistic achievements.
Colorado Springs Gazette Managing Editor Joanna Bean, ’89, played a key role on a team that won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting. Reporter David Phillips bylined the story about combat veterans losing military benefits, and was quoted in the Gazette about Bean’s contributions. “Without her guts, without her smarts, none of this would have ever happened…she’s a real credit to journalism,” Phillips said.
Meanwhile, Guardian US Interactive Editor Gabriel Dance, ’05, (JMC and Computer Science), was on a team that earned the program’s most prestigious award. The Public Service Pulitzer recognized Dance’s team at the Guardian US and the Washington Post for exposing the National Security Agency’s extensive secret surveillance program. Dance is now focusing on the criminal justice system with The Marshall Project. In a release about Dance’s new job, the Project’s editor-in-chief said “Gabe Dance is one of the most creative journalists I know, a master storyteller of the digital age.”
Winners Bean and Dance follow 2013 winners who earned the Breaking News Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Aurora Theater Shootings while working for the Denver Post. These alumni include Denver Post Director of Newsroom Operations Linda (Carpio) Shapley, ’92 (speech communication), photojournalist R.J. Sangosti, ’01, (art), reporters Kris Browning-Blas, ’85, Carlos Illescas, ‘91, Allison Sherry, ‘00, and CSU interns Jason Pohl and Erin Udell.
The 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing went to Rocky Mountain News Reporter Jim Sheeler, ’90. Sheeler earned the award for a series called Final Salute, which followed a marine who notified families that their loved ones were killed in the Iraq War. The book version of the same story was runner up for the National Book Award. After the Rocky Mountain News closed, Sheeler went into teaching, and now holds an endowed professorship at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.
Liz Spayd, ’81, is now editor-in-chief of the Columbia Journalism Review, a magazine that covers the journalism profession and is tied to Columbia University, which hosts the Pulitzer Awards program. Spayd’s new job follows a 25-year career at the Washington Post, where she earned numerous Pulitzer Prizes while serving in roles as managing editor and national editor.
In 1986, alumna Vikki Porter, ’72, earned the Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal for Public Service. Porter was city editor of the Denver Post, and was a member of a five-person team that completed an in-depth report on missing children. Porter now is director of the Knight Digital Media Center at the University of Southern California.
Meanwhile, former Pulitzer winner David Freed, ’76, returned to campus to teach for the fall 2014 and fall 2015 semesters. Freed earned one Pulitzer, and was a finalist for another while a long-time investigative reporter for the L.A. Times. He then spent more than 10 years as a successful Hollywood scriptwriter before becoming a novelist.