Oregonian Wins a Pulitzer

Jeff Alworth

The Oregonian picked up a Pulitzer Prize yesterday for reporting Rick Attig and Doug Bates did on the Oregon State Hospital.  (Read the series here.)  Here's what the Pulitzer board had to say:

For distinguished editorial writing, the test of excellence being clearness of style, moral purpose, sound reasoning, and power to influence public opinion in what the writer conceives to be the right direction, in print....  Awarded to Rick Attig and Doug Bates of The Oregonian, Portland, for their persuasive, richly reported editorials on abuses inside a forgotten Oregon mental hospital.

It is an especially nice win because one of the competitors were writers at the Biloxi Sun Herald, who plead for support in the wake of hurricane Katrina.

This could easily go in the "in the news" category, but I wanted to add a personal comment.  The Oregonian takes a lot of heat on BlueOregon (for example, as recently as five days ago), and I think most of it is justified.  Any paper that publishes dozens of articles each day is going to come in for some criticism.  We don't do the O any favors by overlooking them.

We go round and round about the quality of the Oregonian's product, and often I see in comments that people think the paper is a worthless rag.  But if there's any objective measure to test that theory, Pulitzers are it.  They are juried by other journalists, and awarded for the quality of the work itself, not the name on the masthead.  Winning a Pulitzer is a huge affirmation.

The Oregonian has won four Pulitzers since 1999, which puts it in pretty good company--a lot of city papers don't win Pulitzers, or win them only rarely.  The Oregonian has made a clear decision to invest in serious pieces, and they've been rewarded.  We should continue to criticize the paper when it makes mistakes, or when we wonder about unseen bias.  But we also need to give the O its due.  This is an impressive victory. 

Hats off to the O!

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    It was an excellent series and they deserved this Pulitzer. Congratulations!

  • Varner (unverified)

    I agree with Charlie. This series and the work they did on the INS a few years ago are really noteworthy and just very good reporting. This should encourage them to do more of this type of work.

  • Duke Shepard (unverified)

    Native Oregonian and NY Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff also won a Pulitzer for his commentary on the genocide in Darfur.

  • Patrick Allen (unverified)


    I couldn't agree more. I get travel around the country a fair bit, and make a point of reading local papers wherever I am. While I agree with specific criticisms of the "O" found here and elsewhere, people who claim it's a useless rag clearly haven't read many useless rags.

    In terms of the Pulitzer, they are in good company indeed. I did some math, and only 6 papers in the country have won more Pulitzers than the Oregonian since 1999. And a lofty list it is:

    NY Times LA Times Washington Post Wall Street Journal Chicago Tribune The Associated Press

    Papers that haven't won as many include the Seattle PI and Times, Denver Post, Boston Globe, Miami Herals, Christian Science Monitor, Baltimore Sun, Dalls Morning News, SF Chronical, Atlanta Journal Constitution and more.

    <h2>So, here's to acknowleging one of the benefits of living in Portland: being served by one of the best daily papers in the country.</h2>

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