Roy J. Harris Jr.


Roy Harris is a former Wall Street Journal reporter and editor who has also edited and written for online news sites and magazines. He is the author of the 2008 book "Pulitzer's Gold: Behind the Prize for Public Service Journalism," published by the University of Missouri Press, and brought out in an updated 2010 paperback version. The president of the ASBPE Foundation, an educational nonprofit affiliated with the American Society of Business Publication Editors, he was ASBPE's national president from 2005 to 2007. Most recently he was editorial director, until April 2012, of CFOworld, an online corporate-finance startup created in January 2011 by International Data Group, based in Framingham, Mass. Previously, he served as senior editor for 15 years for what was then The Economist Group's CFO Magazine, a 450,000-circulation, Boston-based publication, also helping run its website. In 23 years with The Journal he spent two decades in Los Angeles, with six years as deputy chief of the 14-member L.A. bureau. Early in his career he served stints reporting for the Los Angeles Times and St. Louis Post-Dispatch. An authority on the Pulitzer Prizes, he contributes often to Poynter Online on that and other topics. He also has served on the adjunct journalism faculty at Boston's Emerson College, where he originated a class in "impact journalism." He lives in Hingham, MA.


“Spotlight:” Boston Globe church-scandal movie spurs press introspection

From left are moderator David Simon, Michael Rezendes, Sacha Pfeiffer, Josh Singer, Tom McCarthy, Ben Bradlee Jr., Walter "Robby" Robinson and Martin Baron. (Photo by Roy J. Harris Jr.)

From left are moderator David Simon, Michael Rezendes, Sacha Pfeiffer, Josh Singer, Tom McCarthy, Ben Bradlee Jr., Walter “Robby” Robinson and Martin Baron. (Photo by Roy J. Harris Jr.)

After the thunderous applause died down for last week’s preview of “Spotlight,” the new Michael Keaton movie, the real stars took seats in front of the screen. Marty Baron, Walter “Robby” Robinson, Mike Rezendes, Sacha Pfeiffer and Ben Bradlee Jr. — five key figures in the Boston Globe’s 2002 Pulitzer Prize-winning expose into the sexual abuse of young parishioners by Catholic priests.

As good a reaction as they gave the film, attendees at the Investigative Film Festival, hosted by the D.C.-based 100Reporters group, seemed as enthusiastic about hearing from the panelists. Do they believe the movie about their 13-year-old disclosures will inspire the news business during its current financial and technological struggles? Read more


Post and Courier’s 90-year Pulitzer drought ends with public service gold

One of the winners, Natalie Caula Hauff celebrates in the newsroom. She left journalism for the PR before the announcement was made.

One of the winners, Natalie Caula Hauff celebrates in the newsroom. She left journalism for the PR before the announcement was made.

Doug Pardue of the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier vividly recalls what inspired the title for the newspaper’s 2015 Pulitzer Prize-winning series—which powerfully details how women in the state are being killed by domestic partners at the rate of one every 12 days.

A lead reporter on the nascent project, Pardue and teammate Jennifer Berry Hawes were interviewing the director of a local women’s shelter about factors that led to such a level of carnage: poverty, an extremely rural population, and a strong gun culture. When the director surprised them by mentioning “this religion thing,” though, they were puzzled. Fundamentalist Christian men, the director explained, often consider themselves totally dominant in any relationship. Read more

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Looking at the Pulitzers…with Pride

Screengrab of Mike Pride, Pulitzer Prize Administrator, announcing the 2015 Pulitzer Prize winners at a press conference held in the Pulitzer World Room, Pulitzer Hall, Columbia University.

Screengrab of Mike Pride, Pulitzer Prize Administrator, announcing the 2015 Pulitzer Prize winners at a press conference held in the Pulitzer World Room, Pulitzer Hall, Columbia University.

Ask Pulitzer Prize administrator Mike Pride what lessons to draw from the 2015 awards—his first since taking over for the now-retired Sig Gissler—and you can almost hear the echo of another small-town journalist from long-ago: Reports of the death of investigative projects are being greatly exaggerated.

That, of course, would be Hannibal, Missouri’s own Mark Twain.

“One fairly clear theme is that there is a lot of good investigative reporting going on,” according to Pride, who came to the Pulitzers’ top spot after a long term as editor of New Hampshire’s Concord Monitor. In an email interview with Poynter, he notes: “It showed up with the two prizes in Investigative Reporting, but also in several other winners and finalists.” And some of those honored publications were found in relatively unusual quarters. Read more


Rumors about Pulitzer winners have been scarce

As newsrooms prepare for today’s 3 p.m. YouTube livestream of the Pulitzer Prize revelations – identifying 2015’s top U.S. journalism awards in 14 categories – rumors about winners and finalists have seemed scarce.

Unlike the Academy Awards and other major competitions, Pulitzer finalists officially are kept secret in advance. When winners are announced, two finalists in each division, typically, are listed at the same time. Back in February, panels of jurors selected three “nominated finalists”; the Pulitzer board made the final choices in meetings last Thursday and Friday.

Until five years ago, an elaborate rumor mill “outed” most finalists early – something that was interrupted only by a concerted effort by now-retired Pulitzer administrator Sig Gissler, who managed to get jurors to hold their nominations close to the vest. Read more


Predicting the Pulitzers: Will a magazine win?

Related: 8 lesser known stories the Pulitzer committee should know about

On Monday at 3 p.m., the Pulitzers reveal what reporting, commentary and photography is the best of the best. For journalists involved with award-worthy work last year, the Pulitzer Prizes may feel like the end of a high-profile gantlet. A half-dozen lesser contests—all younger than the Pulitzers, which celebrate their centennial in 2016—have announced their winners.

In reality, though, the path to the Pulitzers isn’t a gantlet at all.

The two-step Pulitzer selection process this year began with jurors meeting in mid-February to select the three top entries for each of the 14 categories in this granddaddy of contests. Submissions come from the nation’s newspapers and online news sites—with the door open a crack for magazines in 2015. Read more

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This undated photo provided by Stack’s Bowers Galleries shows the first Pulitzer Prize for Public Service to ever come to auction. The 1932 Pulitzer was awarded to the now-defunct New York World-Telegram, and put up for auction in Baltimore on March 29, 2014, by the New York-based Stack’s Bowers Galleries. (AP Photo/Stack’s Bowers Galleries)

Pulitzer Preview: Snowden factor, and more on prize prospects for Monday

The Pulitzer Prize announcements shook with real-world drama last year, interrupted by reports of bombs exploding at the Boston Marathon finish line.

This coming Monday, though, expect another kind of drama: over whether blockbuster coverage of the shocking level of National Security Agency surveillance of Americans – coverage based on whistleblower Edward Snowden’s stolen top-secret documents – will win a Pulitzer for the U.S. website of the British-based Guardian, and perhaps The Washington Post as well.

Glenn Greenwald’s, Ewen MacAskill’s and Laura Poitras’ Guardian coverage, “The NSA Files,” has taken top honors from Scripps Howard, Investigative Reporters and Editors, the Online News Association and the Polk Awards, with the Polks adding Barton Gellman’s Post reporting of NSA data mining to its citation.

When the ONA announced its winners last October, it honored The Guardian with its Gannett Foundation Award for Watchdog Journalism. Read more

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Last rite of friendship: A journalist lobbies for an obit

Mark Twain once called reports of his death exaggerated. But what can be done if the media doesn’t give a person’s actual passing the serious attention it deserves?

Martyl Langsdorf (courtesy Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which published an appreciation of Langsdorf on April 9)

The question confronted me early this month as I sat shocked and saddened at my computer screen, riveted to the St. Louis Beacon online news site. “Martyl Schweig Langsdorf: Landscape painter; created ‘Doomsday Clock’” read the headline of a graceful obituary about the feisty 96-year-old artist – who in recent years had become a dear friend.

That personal connection led me to widen my Internet search, to find what else had appeared in the six days since she had died in the Chicago suburb of Schaumburg, Ill. Read more

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Winners to watch for when the Pulitzers are announced today

About a half-dozen journalism organizations have already weighed in on their versions of 2012’s best reporting, commentary and press photography. Today at 3 p.m. ET, it’s the Pulitzer Prize Board’s turn — for the 97th time — to announce the winners of American journalism’s oldest and highest honors.

The Pulitzer announcement follows the meeting of its 19-member Board, mostly representing news organizations but with a sprinkling of academics and writers, to make its final selection for each of the 14 Pulitzer journalism categories, along with seven for arts, letters and music.

The process started in February with a diverse pool of journalists who assembled at Columbia University’s Journalism Building to nominate three finalists per category. The choices were shrouded in secrecy — a silence finally mastered by Pulitzer administrators in 2009, after years in which members of the juror pool almost comically began leaking within hours of swearing not to disclose their selections. Read more


Nicholas Kristof accepts Goldsmith Career Award

Heralded as part Rachel Carson, part Mother Teresa and part Indiana Jones, Nicholas Kristof was called to accept his Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism on Tuesday night with an introduction designed to set him apart.

In a profession so many join with ambitions of global impact, “the reporter who’s done more than any other to change the world is Nick Kristof,” said Alex S. Jones, director of Harvard University’s Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy. Ticking off the 53-year-old New York Times reporter’s often harrowing topics –  reported from the world’s darkest corners of human suffering and, especially, systematic crimes against women – Jones echoed the thoughts of many in the Cambridge, Mass., audience: “He sometimes shames us; he always inspires us.”

Clearly uncomfortable on a pedestal, Kristof jumped in with tales reflecting insecurities and fears that might be familiar to average reporters and editors. Read more


Patriot-News’ first Pulitzer win honors paper’s legend, Sara Ganim mentor

There’s no question that the investigative soul of The Patriot-News now resides largely with its first Pulitzer Prize-winner: 24-year-old Sara Ganim, whose reporting of alleged sexual abuse by an ex-Penn State football coach shook the paper’s 67,000 central Pennsylvania readers, and resonated with journalists far beyond.

“Better than any award,” she said in post-Pulitzer newsroom remarks to the 19 full-time staffers on Monday, “the most rewarding thing through this whole process has been people telling me that this story and our courage has changed their minds about local reporting, and we all know that there are a lot of minds yet to change.” Continuing that rallying cry in a telephone interview Tuesday, she said that “there’s been a feeling that we don’t do what we used to do, and that we’re not as good as we used to be. Read more

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