Medill alumni win Pulitzer Prizes for local reporting, breaking news

Erica Snow, Assistant Campus Editor

Lisa Gartner (Medill ‘10) won the Pulitzer Prize for local reporting as part of a Tampa Bay Times team of reporters, Columbia University announced Monday.

Gartner, who served as editor in chief of North by Northwestern, reported with Tampa Bay Times reporters Michael LaForgia and Cara Fitzpatrick about five “failure factories,” struggling public elementary schools in Florida’s Pinellas County. A year-long investigation found that 95 percent of black students at five elementary schools in the county were failing reading or math after the school board approved a new plan in 2007 that amounted to “de-facto segregation,” the paper reported. Gartner and her colleagues reported on how the board’s neglect, aggravated by failing teachers and students, turned the once-average schools into segregated and failed schools.

Following the five-part investigation, the U.S. Department of Education opened a civil rights investigation to see if Pinellas County Schools systematically discriminates against black children. The school board also proposed changes April 5, including hiring a “minority achievement officer” and raising annual teacher salaries by up to $25,000 due to the investigation, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

At 28, Gartner is the youngest journalist to win the Pulitzer in the history of the Tampa Bay Times. She could not be reached for comment in time for publication.

Priya Krishnakumar (Medill ‘14) works as a graphics and data journalist at The Los Angeles Times, whose staff won in the breaking news category for its coverage of the December terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California. At Northwestern, Krishnakumar was a student fellow at the Knight Lab and an NBN creative director.

Krishnakumar was involved in the design and development for an interactive piece published more than a week after the shooting, featuring audio of police dispatch calls and witness accounts. The story was one of 10 in the paper’s Pulitzer entry recognized by the Pulitzer board for “exceptional reporting” of the shooting and investigation that followed.

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