Denver Post Comes Up Short in Pulitzer Prize Contest

No confetti flew in the Denver Post newsroom following the 1 p.m. April 7 announcement of the 2008 Pulitzer winners. The Post's "Trashing the Truth" series, nominated in the investigative category, came up short, finding a way to finish behind both of the other two finalists. The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune will share the investigative prize for separate projects that focused upon China. The Times' effort, penned by Walt Bogdanich and Jake Hooker, explored the counterfeit drug trade in the country, while the Tribune's pieces dealt with lead-tainted toys, spurring recalls across the country.

Did the very public complaints about "Trashing the Truth" that surfaced during the past few weeks -- details of which appear in the April 3 Message column -- spoil the Post's chances? Probably not...

After all, the Tribune's salvo was widely regarded as the frontrunner from the beginning, and because it shared its setting with the Times' offerings, judges were able to spread the wealth. Still, "Truth" writers Miles Moffeit and Susan Greene will never know for certain whether or not gripes current Tribune writer Emily Achenbaum shared with Editor & Publisher helped doom their entry, since Pulitzer judges keep deliberations to themselves.

By the way, I received an e-mail from Achenbaum on April 4, shortly after the publication of the aforementioned column, complaining that I referenced her comments in E&P rather than interviewing her about them. She wrote:

Mr. Roberts,

Do you see the irony in writing an article about journalism ethics without contacting me for my side of the story?

Kindly do so next time.

I immediately replied with the following:

I quoted from and referenced Editor & Publisher articles in which you gave your side of the story in detail. Were those articles inaccurate? If so, please let me know -- and if you have anything to add on these issues, I'd be happy to speak with you and post your comments on our blog.

I included my direct telephone number as well as my e-mail address with this invitation and encouraged her to use them. However, Achenbaum didn't respond then, and it'll be difficult for her to do so now, since her computer keyboard is probably buried in confetti. -- Michael Roberts

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