The Seattle Times has been honored for its coverage of the devastating landslide in Oso, which took 43 lives.
The Seattle Times has been awarded the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news for its coverage of the devastating landslide in Oso, Wash., which took 43 lives after a hillside above the Stillaguamish River collapsed and tore through the Steelhead Haven neighborhood at 60 mph.
The award, announced Monday, is shared by the newspaper’s staff and is the paper’s 10th Pulitzer.
Seattle Times Editor Kathy Best said the recognition by the industry’s highest honor was tempered by the nature of the tragedy on March 22, 2014.
“This is bittersweet because 43 people lost their lives,” Best said. “However, I’m incredibly proud of the way The Seattle Times staff covered the tragedy. We asked hard questions and we provided information to a community that needed it.”
The coverage, which included stories, photos, video and graphics, revealed that, contrary to public officials’ insistence, there were warnings for decades about the unstable nature of the earth in the region.
Publisher Frank Blethen, who learned of the latest Pulitzer Prize on his 70th birthday, said the award honored the tenacity of a newspaper that has struggled to survive in recent years.
“There is no question in my mind. There is not a better newsroom in this country,” Blethen said, adding: “There are some bigger ones.”
This is the second breaking-news Pulitzer for Times staff in five years. In 2010, the paper won the award for coverage of the shooting deaths of four Lakewood, Wash., police officers and the manhunt that ensued for the killer, Maurice Clemmons.
The landslide coverage required months of on-site, investigative and enterprise reporting that involved everyone in the newsroom, said deputy managing editor Jim Simon. The stories included in-depth interviews with victims, families and others affected by the trauma. News of the award drew cheers, handshakes and high-fives from staffers gathered to hear the announcement, as well as a solemn recognition of the source of the story.
“We did what any good newsroom should do when a big story breaks,” Best told staffers. “We gave people accurate information when rumors and inaccuracies were swirling all over the place. We asked hard questions in the moment. When public officials were saying, ‘Oh, this was unforeseen,’ we showed that it was not unforeseen.
“The way that we covered that story honored the people who lost their lives and honored those who survive.”