When I was a freshman in high school, I wrote a research paper on child abuse. I had to manage my time well, because I could not sit at the computer for hours and do research. I could only read a few articles and case studies at a time because it was just too heart-wrenching.
This, I think, was harder. Because it wasn’t intentional. It was an accident.
Fatal Distraction: Forgetting a Child in the Backseat of a Car Is a Horrifying Mistake. Is it a Crime? by Gene Weingarten won Pulitzer Prize for feature writing, and it’s no surprise why.
The story was on parents whose children had died because they had been forgotten in the backseat. My favorite quote from the article sums it up pretty well:
What kind of person forgets a baby?
The wealthy do, it turns out. And the poor, and the middle class. Parents of all ages and ethnicities do it. Mothers are just as likely to do it as fathers. It happens to the chronically absent-minded and to the fanatically organized, to the college-educated and to the marginally literate. In the last 10 years, it has happened to a dentist. A postal clerk. A social worker. A police officer. An accountant. A soldier. A paralegal. An electrician. A Protestant clergyman. A rabbinical student. A nurse. A construction worker. An assistant principal. It happened to a mental health counselor, a college professor and a pizza chef. It happened to a pediatrician. It happened to a rocket scientist.
The amount of reporting done was impeccable; Weingarten was able to collect enough data to give anecdotes as well as hard facts. He paints the picture of interviews conducted before giving the reader information about the brain that explains how a person can forget their child in the backseat. It’s conversational but extremely informative. I wanted to cry and get as far away from my computer as possible, but it was so well-written that I could not take my eyes away.
But I will admit: there was a photo gallery that I couldn’t bring myself to look at.
By Annie Perry
Like a few others in the class, the Pulitzer prize winning work that I chose to read was Fatal Distraction: Forgetting a Child in the Backseat of a Car Is a Horrifying Mistake. Is It a Crime?, which won for feature writing. And I have to say, it was one of the most powerful and moving pieces of journalism that I have ever read.
It wasn’t just the facts that made the story, it was the descriptions, the quotes, and the way the scene was painted. The heartache and the guilt dripped off of the words on the page, making it difficult to read but impossible to put down. The pain that these families have been through is excruciating, and the fact that it was brought to life in such an eloquent and heart-wrenching manner is definitely award-worthy. I was previously unaware of such an issue, and I’m glad that a story as thoroughly researched and brilliantly written as this was able to bring it to light.
by Taylor Benson
Mark Fiore is an editorial cartoonist who creates political cartoons from an undisclosed location in San Francisco. His work appears regularly in a wide variety of online news web sites. I felt like he efficiently utilizes his multimedia skills with every cartoon he illustrates. Not only are the editorial cartoons informative, but they are visually capitvating and interesting, which is what many web surfers are looking for.
Today is an age where even well-written articles are overlooked, simply because society looks for an easier way to get their news. They want videos that play with the click of a button.
Though, with an age so driven by visual entertainment on the internet, the content in these videos must also be easily grasped and understood. Mark Fiore does all of that–and then some.
Not only are the cartoons well-crafted artistically, but the scrfipts behind them are EXTREMELY well written. The voice overs are well fitting and the sound effects create the perfect scene. The animations tackle hard topics with a sense of humor and deliver your “NEWS in a NUTSHELL.”
As a side note, everyone should watch “Un-gay.” Hilarious!
By Mo Hnatiuk
The Deadly Choices at Memorial
The use of multimedia tools helped tell the story of the tragedy at Memorial Hospital in a way that writing alone could not. The combination of extensive video, time lines and pictures helped paint a vivid picture of disaster.
The schematic of the hospital was a brilliant touch. It’s deceptively simple, and it probably wasn’t even particularly difficult to obtain the layouts, but it enables the reader to imagine themselves in the story and makes it that much more real to someone who wasn’t there.
The attention to detail is also engrossing. Nothing seems to have been overlooked – “the dark pool of water rimmed with garbage crawling up South Claiborne Avenue in the direction of the hospital” probably came from an off-handed comment during an interview, but its inclusion helps create an ominous feeling.
I especially responded to the time line. There was something particularly stark about it that made the story stand out. Perhaps it’s the ability to see at a glance that this story lasts six days; as you read the sad story on days one and two, you already know that the trauma isn’t anywhere near to being over.
This presentation is a great example of the power of multimedia, and the Pulitzer Prize seems fitting.
– Laura Riess
Sheri Fink of ProPublica worked in conjunction with The New York Times Magazine to win a Pulitzer in investigative reporting, and as any in-depth reporting piece should do in this age of journalism, the genius of this piece transcends the brilliant writing of the story.
Written in late August of 2008, Fink’s piece tells the story of medical personnel having to make tough decisions in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and defending those decision afterward. For example, one physician made the decision to inject some patients with lethal doses of certain drugs to ease patients’ pain.
Multimedia of the piece, however, it what makes it come to life. A video interview, interactive timeline, interactive graphic and other images help to tell the story in a way that just words alone could not do as efficiently.
Fink also did an amazing job of writing supplemental pieces to add to the story that didn’t necessarily fit in with the main storyline. It’ll take you an hour to get through all of the content, but it’s really, truly worth the time.