The Pulitzer judges’ decision* not to award a prize in Features Writing on Monday was disappointing but not unprecedented.** The last (and only other) gap occurred 10 years ago, when stories by Robert Lee Hotz (Los Angeles Times), Anne Hull and Tamara Jones (the Washington Post) and Patricia Wen (the Boston Globe) stalled out as finalists. This year’s finalists wrote stories about a Los Angeles manhunt, a child abuse survivor and a year in the life of students of gross anatomy. The honorees:
1) Scott Farwell, the Dallas Morning News, for his story about “a young woman’s struggle to live a normal life after years of ghastly child abuse, an examination of human resilience in the face of depravity.” Of “The Girl in the Closet,” which ran as an eight-day series, Farwell has said, “(I) don’t think I’ve ever worked on a story that’s inspired this kind of emotion.”
—His opening sentence:
Lauren is alone in the dark.
He recorded every interview and then listened to each one. Though time-consuming, the exercise helped him determine how to structure the story; he wanted the dialogue, character development and scenes to fit together seamlessly. Farwell equated the experience to carpentry.
“You cut all your pieces of wood, lay them all out, and have a plan,” he said. “It’s a creative journey for sure, but at the end you want it to be like a dresser, where it’s all square and the drawers slide like butter back and forth. No jiggling.” — from Poynter.org
—Live chat: One reader said, “It’s not only the facts, it is the manner in which the facts are presented. Very, very well done.”