Former editorial page editor added to Pulitzer win

April 20, 2016

A co-winner has been added to the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing, according to a press release from the prizes. Brian Gleason, who previously worked as editorial page editor at Florida’s Sun Newspapers, is now listed as a co-winner alongside editor John Hackworth.

Gleason, who now is the communications manager for Charlotte County government, contacted the paper and told them he thought he had written some of the winning editorials, which didn’t run with a byline.

Sun editors said that a check of the newspaper’s electronic library confirmed that of the eight editorials in the entry, Hackworth had written five and Gleason three.

Executive Editor Chris Porter, who wrote the initial entry letter, informed the Pulitzer office of the error.

Omitting Gleason’s name from the entry “was an honest mistake, but one we should not have made, and one we hope you will help us correct,” he wrote.

Gleason also believes it was an honest mistake, a phrase he repeated several times in a phone call with Poynter.

“There’s not a fiber in my being that thinks that he did anything to try to take credit for my work,” Gleason said, “it was an absolutely honest mistake.”

And he knows just how it happened. While at the paper, Gleason complained frequently to Porter about how bad the search function was on their system. When Hackworth did a search for keywords from series, the editorials were among the work that showed up.

Those stories don’t have the names of authors on them, that’s in the document’s metadata.

“The mistake that he made, and it was an honest mistake, was just not to double-check,” Gleason said.

He sent the following quote to the paper for an update about the award:

I’m honored and humbled to share this prize with my friend and colleague John Hackworth, who shared my outrage at the conditions at the Charlotte Correctional Institution that created such a callous indifference to the lives of the inmates who were killed there. We’re both indebted to staff writer Adam Kreger, whose reporting on the prison deaths was the bedrock beneath our editorials. The prize is a testament to the leadership of David Dunn-Rankin and Chris Porter, who understood how important it was for the Sun to both inform our readers about the injustices and convey our disgust at the brutality of the guards involved, the indifference of their superiors and the corruption that allowed these heinous crimes to go unpunished.

Any regrets about leaving journalism now?

“I wrestled with it for awhile,” Gleason said.

He was with the paper for 26 years. He has one kid in college and two on the way to college. The county created a position for him and it felt like a good fit.

“I know the community, I live here,” he said.

Publisher David Dunn-Rankin said to Gleason at the time that the work wouldn’t be as fulfilling. Gleason disagreed. The job he was leaving for would help make their community a better place to live.

He always felt like that was his job as a journalist.

“And I’m just doing that at a different place now.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with Gleason’s comments.

Correction: An earlier version of this story attributed a comment to founder Derek Dunn-Rankin. It came from publisher David Dunn-Rankin. It has been corrected.