Journalism and Mass Communications, College of


Date of this Version



Published in Quill September 2007. Quill is published and copyright by the Society of Professional Journalists. All rights reserved. Used by permission.


Academic fraud in the men's basketball program. The unseen world of cancer survivors. Limited ambulance service in low-income areas. The topics can be explored in Anytown USA. And they'll give readers information that illuminates the world around them. And guess what? They're the stuff of Pulitzers — really.

In 2000, George Dohrmann of the St. Paul Pioneer Press won a Pulitzer for beat reporting when he uncovered academic fraud within the University of Minnesota's men's basketball program. In 2005, Amy Dockser Marcus of the Wall Street Journal won a beat-reporting Pulitzer for her stories about patients, families and physicians facing cancer. And, in 1971, William Jones of the Chicago Tribune won a Pulitzer for local investigative specialized reporting for exposing problems with ambulance service.

As a reporter, you might say, "I don't have the time or the freedom to explore a topic like that." As an editor, you might think, "My staff has many other things to do." The key is to make time for the stories that improve the lives of those we serve. Yes, a Pulitzer would be nice, but that shouldn't be the reason for the investment. If your newspaper or station wants to elevate journalism, believe you can do it and set your mind to it. How do you do it? The same way you eat an elephant: a small piece at a time.