Knight Center director, J-School alums mark Pulitzer Centennial
Knight Center Director Eric Freedman and two J-School alumni took part in recent events in Washington, D.C., commemorating the centennial of the prestigious awards in journalism, literature and music.
M.L. Elrick, ‘90, won a 2009 Pulitzer for Detroit Free Press coverage of then-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s corruption scandal.
The Pulitzer judges cited Elrick and Free Press colleague James Schaefer for “their uncovering of a pattern of lies by Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick that included denial of a sexual relationship with his female chief of staff, prompting an investigation of perjury that eventually led to jail terms for the two officials.”
Elrick is now a reporter at Fox 2 News (WJBK TV) in Detroit and a member of the of the MSU College of Communication Arts & Sciences alumni board.
As reporters in the Detroit News Lansing Bureau, Freedman and James Mitzelfeld, ‘84, won their 1994 Pulitzer for coverage of a corruption scandal in the Michigan legislature.
Judges cited their “dogged reporting that disclosed flagrant spending abuses at Michigan’s House Fiscal Agency.”
Mitzelfeld is now senior counsel in the Office of the Inspector General at the U.S. Justice Department in Washington, At MSU, he was editor-in-chief of the State News and a Capital News Service correspondent.
At the time of their prize-winning reporting, Freedman was a J-School adjunct faculty member. He joined MSU full-time in 1996 and is now Knight Chair and director of Capital News Service.
In October, the J-School will be involved in another Pulitzer Centennial event, this time in Lansing.
A partnership of the Michigan Humanities Council, Michigan Interscholastic Press Association and the J-School will create a high school-level competition for journalism students to work with Michigan Pulitzer winners at the MIPA fall conference.
Schools will hold competitions and choose a student piece for professional journalists to judge. The winners will earn a travel scholarship to attend the conference and will work in small classroom settings with the journalists.
It’s part of a national Pulitzer Campfires initiative by the Pulitzer Prize Board and Federation of State Humanities Councils, with funding from the Mellon Foundation, Carnegie Corp. and Ford Foundation.
The Washington event that Elrick, Mitzelfeld and Freedman attended included two panels held at the Newseum and moderated by National Public Radio’s Scott Simon.
The first, “Vietnam: What it Meant Then and What It Has Come to Mean Today,” featured four Pulitzer winners who covered the Vietnam War: Peter Arnett, Neil Sheehan, David Hume Kennerly and Nick Ut. The second, “Fact, Fiction and the Quest for Truth,” featured Pulitzer- winning historian Annette-Gordon-Reed, historian-journalist Hank Klibanoff, poet Rita Dove, playwright Ayad Akhtar and novelist Jane Smiley.
In a panel at the new Washington Post building, Pulitzer winners Bob Woodward, Paul Gigot and David Maraniss and board chair Danielle Allen discussed “Viewing Barack Obama’s Presidency through the Lens of History,” and Pulitzer-winning columnist Eugene Robinson interviewed White House chief of staff Denis McDonough.