Archive for the ‘Pulitzer Prize’ Tag

Crime, ethics and truth   Leave a comment

In Bad City, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Paul Pringle provides an in-depth look at the culture of silence regarding scandals at the University of Southern California while addressing the threat to journalistic integrity at the Los Angeles Times.

When Pringle, a Times investigative reporter, gets a tip about Carmen Puliafito, then dean of USC’s Keck School of Medicine involving drug abuse he’s initially skeptical.

Through diligent inquiry, Pringle pursues the doctor’s activities, which include dispensing and using illegal drugs. His wealth and power allow him to lead a double life as a respected member of academia and the medical community. He’s also the manipulating lover of a much younger woman to whom he provided drugs, money and apartments.

Inquiries to USC are dismissed at the same time his editors attempt to quash the story. Slowly, Pringle suspects a conflict of interest with the paper and its relationship with the renowned university. This only further motivates him to continue his probe.

Pringle is able to substantiate his story, but his editors want more thus delaying publication. When it’s evident the story will languish indefinitely, he and a handful of other reports secretly work to expose the Times and USC connection.

While the focus is on Puliafito, Pringle also addresses other USC scandals including the gynecologist who sexually abused hundreds of women; and the Varsity Blues scandal involving bribes to gain admission to elite colleges and universities around the country.

Pringle successfully challenged both the power in play USC while championing journalism’s important role.

Bad City: Peril and Power in the City of Angels

Four Bookmarks

Celadon Books, 2022

289 pages including acknowledgements and notes

A #Movement, Journalism and Truth   Leave a comment

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The phrase Catch and Kill, the title of Pulitzer Prize  winner Ronan Farrow’s account of power brokers’ abuse of women, has its roots in journalism. It refers to a media outlet obtaining the rights to a story and then letting it rot. That is, the public never sees it.

Farrow writes of his efforts to expose Harvey Weinstein who used his power as a Hollywood producer to take advantage of women by promising, or at least suggesting, he would help further their careers in exchange for sexual favors. This isn’t about a singular or a few incidents; there are many, but it took Farrow’s determination to uncover the truth.

Although Weinstein is the focus, Farrow also recounts efforts by other men in similar roles to keep their secrets from surfacing. These included threats of intimidation to keep the victims of abuse silent; spies, financial payouts and efforts to kill the story – not just once but multiple times.

When Farrow began working on the story he was an investigative reporter for NBC News. The more information he obtained, including on-the-record statements from the victims, the more the was thwarted by upper management at the network. He was finally given approval to pitch the story elsewhere, which is how it came to be published by The New Yorker.

Farrow recounts the numerous fact-checking, the uncovering of documents and a general resistance to revealing the facts associated with how the story broke. He imbues the narrative with sensitivity, vulnerability, occasional humor and tenacity.

Catch and Kill
(subtitled: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to protect Predators)
Four-and-a-half Bookmarks
Little, Brown and Co., 2019
448 pages (includes index)

Men Will Be Boys   Leave a comment

Burgessboys

My sons are in their twenties and I still refer to them as the boys. It’s not so unusual, then, that Elizabeth Strout’s latest novel since her Pulitzer Prize-winning Olive Kittridge identifies the 50-something protagonist brothers as The Burgess Boys. Yet, it’s unsettling that they are such poorly matured men.

The backstory of Bob being accidently responsible for his father’s death is almost a character unto itself. This aspect of the novel emerges slowly and evolves, just as everyone else does, providing an especially interesting angle.

Jim is the older brother, the successful, high-achieving one. Bob, on the other hand, is less driven, and far more endearing. He rarely grows weary of Jim’s disparagements toward him, although reading them is tiresome. The boys left their childhood home in Maine years ago to pursue their lives in New York City. Jim is a hot-shot lawyer and Bob, also a lawyer, serves a different clientele. They receive word from their perpetually-unhappy sister (Bob’s twin) in rural Maine that her son is charged with a hate crime. This is the driving narrative, but that backstory is never far behind.

Strout has created a novel full of multiple layers, but not different versions. She provides snapshots of what happens in real life. Some are faded, some in black and white. The characters are heartbreaking in their deception, confusions and naiveté. Unlike Olive Kittridge which was a collection of connections among its characters, The Burgess Boys focuses on a family’s past and present, along with its shortcomings.

 The Burgess Boys
Three-and-a-half Bookmarks
Random House, 2013
337 pages