Wednesday, April 19, 2006

A prize worth fighting for

Alabama's Birmingham News was a finalist in this year's Pulitzer Prize competition for a series of editorials the newspaper published. The editorials pointed out flaws in Alabama's death penalty system (one of the worst in the nation) and called for repeal of death penalty statutes.

Editorial writer Robin DeMonia writes about the experience of almost -- but not quite -- winning a Pulitzer:

A prize worth fighting to win
Wednesday, April 19,

Monday was an exhilarating day here at The News - exhilarating and nerve-wracking. After weeks of rumors, the editorial page learned our death penalty series last year was a finalist for the biggest honor in journalism, the Pulitzer Prize.

Another paper, The Oregonian in Portland, won the award for editorial writing. But we were among the three finalists, which is no small thing. As my boss put it, it was the next best thing to winning a Pulitzer.

Sadly, the series met with less success in Alabama's legislative process than it did with the Pulitzer process.

Monday, as this year's Pultizer cycle was coming to an end, the Alabama Legislature was drawing its session to a close.

Not a single death penalty reform survived the session. Nothing to make the state's death penalty system more sensible. Nothing to make it more reliable. Nothing to make it more fair.

To read the entire column, go here.

Way to go, Birmingham News. Although you did not win the Pulitzer, you shined public light on a very important issue -- and reminded us all that a newspaper can demonstrate courage, leadership and inspiration.

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