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Pulitzer-Winning Reporter Joins WBUR

Sacha Pfeiffer (MET’94) to cover health and science

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“There’s sort of a sweet, homecoming element to it,” says Pulitzer-winner Sacha Pfeiffer (MET’94) on her return to BU as WBUR’s health and science reporter.

This week, WBUR, BU’s National Public Radio member station, welcomed Sacha Pfeiffer (MET’94), a Pulitzer Prize–winning 13-year veteran of the Boston Globe, to its staff. Pfeiffer will be the station’s new health and science reporter.

Sam Fleming, WBUR’s managing director of news and programming, says the station had been looking to fill the health and science beat for nearly a year, since the departure of science reporter Allan Coukell, when they learned that Pfeiffer — “someone we’ve admired for a long time,” Fleming says — might be interested in making the jump to radio. “She has such a huge upside in terms of her journalistic abilities and smarts,” he says. “We thought it would be worthwhile training her in a new medium and getting her on the WBUR team.”

After graduating from BU with a degree in English and history, Pfeiffer worked for a year as a general assignment reporter for the Dedham Times. She joined the Globe as a full-time freelancer the following year, and in 1999 she joined the staff covering the Suffolk County Courthouse. In November 2000 she became part of the Globe’s investigative Spotlight Team, a move that would earn her a Pulitzer Prize in 2003 for the team’s series of articles on sex abuse by priests and the cover-up by the Boston archdiocese.

Pfeiffer is the recipient of a George Polk Award for National Reporting and a 2002 award from Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc., a nonprofit organization that supports investigative reporting. For the past three years, she has been the Globe’s legal affairs reporter, a beat she created after a 2005 Knight Journalism Fellowship at Stanford University.

She left the Globe, she says, after having “had the great fortune of working with the paper’s best editors and doing the best jobs.” But after 13 years, “I was running out of things to learn and ways to grow.” Switching to radio, she says, will be a welcome challenge.

To make the adjustment, Pfeiffer will spend the next few weeks training, according to Fleming. “We’ll concentrate on having her do fairly straightforward stories initially," he says, "so she can concentrate on the craft of putting those stories together, as opposed to the journalism, the reporting and writing, which we know she’s great at.”

She says she is “excited about the chance to use the power of sound and to incorporate audio in my reporting,” but acknowledges that she’s facing two learning curves. “One is the medium and the technology,” she explains. “The days when all I needed was a pen and a notebook are gone.”

The second is the science beat itself, although Pfeiffer believes that the fundamentals of reporting are the same no matter the area of coverage.

“It’s about identifying good stories and getting people to talk to you,” she says, “and getting at these stories in interesting ways.”

Chris Berdik can be reached at cberdik@bu.edu.

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