Alumni Profiles

Three '80s Alumni Pop the Pulitzer Champagne Cork

Kevin Sullivan '81 believes in the power of journalism to bring about change. So when he and wife Mary Jordan, both Washington Post foreign correspondents, began working on a series last year about the Mexican criminal justice system, their goal was to shed light on the absence of the rule of law in parts of the country. "By writing about these things, hopefully in some small way it helps push for changes in the system," Sullivan says.

But the reporter couple's efforts were rewarded more richly than they had imagined: they won a Pulitzer Prize for international reporting for their series of articles. Sullivan says he was "stunned" by the news.

During the reporting and writing of the eight-story series, Sullivan and Jordan often found themselves in difficult situations. In one story, he reported on an incident in which two cousins got into an argument that ended with one man stabbing the other to death. The village elders were left to decide the murderer's punishment: to be buried alive alongside his victim. "Justice is really out of control," Sullivan says. In another incident, a man threatened to shoot him for his reporting. Sullivan is surprisingly nonchalant about the danger. "I don't do it to be a cowboy," he says. "I do these things because they are really important stories to tell. These people we're writing about have no other voice."

Mark Osler '81 ended up an award-winning photojournalist because of a mistake 12 years ago. A business administration major at UNH, Osler was working for AT&T when he enrolled in a week-long photography course. He discovered he had instead been assigned to a photojournalism class. But by the end of the week he was captivated, and went back to school for a photojournalism degree.

Now a photo editor at the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, Colo., Osler was part of a 19-person team of photographers and editors that covered a raging forest fire that burned through the summer of 2002. Osler's role was the "nerve center," coordinating photographers, gathering news, arranging flights over the fire zone and keeping track of the spread of the fire. The team's submission of 20 photos of the fire and the events surrounding it was awarded the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography.

The North Andover, Mass., Eagle-Tribune's Pulitzer for breaking news coverage was a "bittersweet victory," wrote publisher Irving "Chip" Rogers III '83.

In December 2002, three young boys drowned in the Merrimack River in a heroic attempt to save a friend. While the job of a newspaper is to publish the news, "we are not immune from its heartbreak," Rogers said, and he praised his staff for their "exceptional straightforward package of stories and pictures" about the tragedy "under uncommonly difficult circumstances."

 Easy to print version

blog comments powered by Disqus