COM alums part of two Pulitzer honors
Two COM journalism alumni were part of teams receiving Pulitzer honors last week.
Samantha Gross (’18) reported from the scene of the Surfside condominium collapse from the first day, and now her stories helped earn the Miami Herald newsroom win a Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News this month for the newspaper’s coverage of the tragedy.
The series earned the honor, considered the top award in journalism, “for its urgent yet sweeping coverage of the collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium complex, merging clear and compassionate writing with comprehensive news and accountability reporting,” as described by the Pulitzer committee.
Kimberly Johnson (’96,’98) was the lead editor on The Tulsa Race Massacre: 100 Years Later, a Wall Street Journal project that was one of two Pulitzer finalists in the Explanatory News category.
The multi-part, multimedia report “vividly reconstructed the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and illuminated its enduring effects, describing how the destruction of Black wealth and property burdened future generations,” as described by the Pulitzer committee.
In January, Gross returned to Boston to work as a political reporter for the Boston Globe. She spoke with COM about the condominium collapse and the award.
With Samantha Gross
COM: What was your role in the reporting on the condo collapse?
Gross: As one of the reporters who lived blocks away from the site of the collapse, I served as an on-site reporter the morning of the collapse and for the weeks that followed. I was part of the group of reporters who wrote the first story confirming the number of the missing, and worked on dozens of stories after that day, including dispatches from the scene, short features on events like the first Shabbat after the collapse and the role of medical examiners, obituaries, and an investigative story that found the designer who worked on the Champlain Towers had worked on faulty buildings in the past. Over the course of the reporting we had built relationships with families of those who died and survivors who lived in the part of the building that didn’t collapse, which helped us continue telling these stories in the months after the tragic event.
COM: What was it like in the newsroom when you and your colleagues learned of the award?
Gross: I was FaceTimed into the Herald’s temporary newsroom from the Massachusetts State House, where I currently work as one of the Boston Globe’s politics reporters. It was really emotional for all of us, and I felt really grateful to be able to share that moment, albeit virtually, with some of my best friends and former colleagues. It’s a bittersweet thing to win an award for such a tragic event, but I know we all felt very proud to have such hard and important work recognized. The newsroom held a 98-second moment of silence to honor the 98 victims.
COM: Was there a takeaway lesson to share with the COM community?
Gross: With a newsroom Pulitzer like this one, the lesson is that collaboration and collegiality go a long way. I think I speak for all of us when I say that this was the hardest story of our careers, and we really leaned on each other for both emotional and professional support during that time. Our team worked seamlessly and tirelessly to put out stories day after day, and it was that teamwork and stamina that really made an impact in the community.