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TU spotlights Pulitzer Prize Centennial with Boston Globe editor

Three Oklahoma universities, the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum and the international Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma are combining to present two days of events to commemorate the centennial of the Pulitzer Prize.

The events with the theme “Pulitzer Prize Centennial: The Impact of Trauma Coverage” will be held at the University of Central Oklahoma, University of Oklahoma and The University of Tulsa on Sept. 28-29, 2016. Featuring past and current Pulitzer Prize winners, all events will be free and open to the public.

“Oklahoma has many connections to the Pulitzer Prize, one of our country’s most coveted honors,” Planning Committee Chairman Joe Hight said. “We felt it was important to incorporate trauma coverage as the theme because of its impact on Oklahoma and the world. Recent terrorist attacks only serve to reinforce that emphasis.”

The events, which commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Pulitzer Prize, will feature a specially produced tribute by the National Memorial on Anthony Shadid, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner from Oklahoma. Shadid, who also was an author, died in 2012 while on assignment in Syria for The New York Times.

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Walter “Robby” Robinson

The University of Tulsa will kick off the two-day event at 7 p.m. Sept. 28 with From Watchdog to Spotlight: Journalists Exposing Systemic Abuse at the Lorton Performance Center. It will feature Boston Globe Editor-at-Large Walter V. “Robby” Robinson, who led the Spotlight investigative team that won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for its coverage about the widespread and systemic child sex abuse in the Boston area by numerous Roman Catholic priests, and an ongoing cover-up of pedophilia by the Boston Archdiocese. Actor Michael Keaton portrayed Robinson in the movie Spotlight, which won Best Picture in this year’s Academy Awards.

Robinson will be interviewed in a wide-ranging conversation about investigating trauma, reporting about sexual abuse, what it is like to be interviewed in a movie and other topics. Then Robinson will be featured on a panel with Tulsa World Executive Editor Susan Ellerbach; Ziva Branstetter, editor in chief of The Frontier in Tulsa; and Hight, the endowed chair of journalism ethics at UCO. Hight was editor when The Gazette in Colorado Springs won the Pulitzer Prize in National Reporting in 2014 for a story about dishonorable discharges. Branstetter and Ellerbach were part of the Tulsa World team that was a Pulitzer finalist in 2015 for their stories on the botched executions at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary. Elana Newman, TU’s McFarlin professor of psychology and research director of the Dart Center, will also participate along with Bruce Shapiro, contributing editor for the Nation and executive director of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma.

On Sept. 29, OU will host a panel discussion on The Culture of Trauma Coverage Before and After the Internet in the Edith Kinney Gaylord Auditorium at the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication. It will feature Hailey Branson Potts, a reporter who was a member of the Los Angeles Times’ team that won the Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News Reporting for its coverage of the San Bernardino terrorist attack. Other featured panelists include Ed Kelley, an Editor & Publisher Editor of the Year who is now dean of the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication; Hannah Allam, a foreign correspondent who is now with McClatchy Newspapers’ Washington Bureau; John Schmeltzer, an OU professor who won the Pulitzer Prize when he was at the Chicago Tribune; and Shapiro.

That afternoon, a panel at UCO will discuss Research on Journalists and Coverage of Trauma at the Liberal Arts College’s Pegasus Theater. Newman will begin the panel by describing the current status of research about journalists and trauma scholarship conducted at the Dart Center and elsewhere, including preliminary findings on a study about Pulitzer winners who have covered victims of tragedy. Newman will be joined by Raymond McCaffrey, a former Washington Post reporter and editor who now is the director of the Center for Ethics in Journalism at the University of Arkansas. Other panelists will be Kenna Griffin, a former reporter for The Oklahoman who is now an assistant professor at Oklahoma City University, and Desiree Hill, a former TV news executive who now teaches at UCO. All the panelists are educators who have completed or are conducting ongoing research about journalists’ occupational health and/or dilemmas in covering trauma.

The two-day event will end with Mike Boettcher, a war correspondent, documentarian and visiting professor at OU, interviewing Branson Potts and Charles Porter IV, a citizen journalist who won a Pulitzer Prize for his photo of firefighter Chris Fields carrying Baylee Almon in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing. The interview will focus on the ethical and emotional challenges in covering disasters and terrorism.

For details of all of Oklahoma’s Pulitzer Centennial events, please visit the Oklahoma Press Association.

Sponsors are the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, Roxana and Robert Lorton Jr. and Robert Lorton III. Other sponsors include the following University of Tulsa entities: the Social Sciences Interest Group, Kendall College of Arts and Sciences, Tulsa Institute of Trauma, Adversity and Injustice and the Department of Communication. Partners in planning for and organizing the event are the Oklahoma Press Association, University of Central Oklahoma Mass Communication Department, OU’s Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication, TU and the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum.

Planning Committee members are Hight, Kelley and Newman; David Craig and Elanie Steyn, Gaylord College, University of Oklahoma; Mary Carver, University of Central Oklahoma Mass Communication; Lisa Sutliff, Oklahoma Press Association; and Kari Watkins and Mary Ann Eckstein, the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum.