Eli Saslow thanks his sources for their ‘huge act of courage’

The Washington Post

Speaking to The Washington Post newsroom after he won a Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting Monday, reporter Eli Saslow said that a friend had told him, “Oh Pulitzer Prize winner, now I know the first three words of your obituary.”

Saslow saluted colleagues, editors and the Post itself. Referring to former owner Don Graham, Saslow said he’s excited about its new ownership but is “so, so grateful that if I was ever going to get lucky enough to win one of these things that some of the stories were published when it was Don’s paper.” Saslow also talked about the people “I owe the most to”: His sources.

They’re the ones who take the huge risk. It’s a huge act of courage to have somebody call, who you don’t know, from out of town, and say that they want to come be with you constantly in sort of, you know, every corner of your life in this moment where things are usually not going well and there’s a lot at stake. That’s an incredible thing to ask of people, and yet they say yes, and I wonder a lot about that because I’m not sure I’d be the person who said yes. And I think it’s because people are so — they really crave to be understood and they want to know that what they’re dealing with matters. And I think our journalism should validate that and it should take good care of the trust they’re giving us to come into their lives.

He likened the prize to the experience of having a nice sandwich after reporting on a family without food security.

“In some ways this moment is a little bit like eating a sandwich,” he said. “It’s like, it’s great. It feels really, really good. I hope some of the attention goes to the people who are letting us into their lives.”

Related: Saslow’s author page at the Post.

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  • kathleen

    It is disheartening to find a story on a writing blog that never mentions what Mr. Saslow explained (I assume eloquently and clearly) to win his prize.