The Gazette won the Pulitzer Prize Monday, journalism's top award, because of a series of articles that is improving the plight of military personnel who risk their lives to keep the United States safe and free.
Like all great journalists, reporter Dave Philipps uses his career as a means of improving society. When he heard about soldiers getting discharged without benefits, after suffering injuries in war, he embarked on a no-holds-barred fact-finding mission. His efforts culminated in a three-part series called "Other than Honorable."
Because the information was of such great importance to our community and the country, no effort was spared in making the articles accurate and clear. Managing Editor Joanna Bean, Editor Joe Hight, photographer Michael Ciaglo, designer Stephanie Swearngin, presentation director Dena Rosenberry, former staffer Chris Hickerson and others at The Gazette spent countless hours packaging and fine-tuning the series to make complicated details easy to comprehend on paper, cellphones, tablets and computers.
Philipps and colleagues lit candles that illuminated truth and understanding. The stories caught the attention of politicians and military brass in Washington. They initiated inquiries that may end and prevent suffering. For some injured veterans, the series was their last hope.
"This is a great example of the teamwork that we have here at The Gazette," Hight said. "Led by Dave's outstanding reporting, The Gazette's newsroom came together to tell the story on our different platforms through text, visuals, video, interactively - all factors that go into the winning of a Pulitzer Prize. The National Reporting prize is a tremendous achievement for a news organization of all sizes. We also hope this recognition will help those soldiers whose stories were told in 'Other Than Honorable,' as well as others who served our country honorably." Philipps is just the latest in a distinguished line of reporters proving that investigative journalism is alive, well and in demand. Our world is a better place as a result of blogs, social media sites and other developments that have put mass communication into the hands of nearly all individuals. Freedom of the press no longer belongs only to those who own big, expensive printing machines.
But reaching an audience isn't the same as serving it. When the Pulitzer Committee chooses the best in mass communication, it looks for examples of research and storytelling that expose truth and bring about constructive public policy. Though newspapers remain in the business of distributing content - via multiple and diverse channels old and new - they are mostly in the service of creating great content. They are in the business of rigorous, objective research presented in packages that inform, persuade and entertain.
The crucial social role retained by traditional media may explain why some of the greatest business achievers - from Warren Buffett, to John Henry, to Jeff Bezos - are buying and investing in newspapers. It's not because they want old printing presses. It's more likely they want businesses that fulfill the role of the Fourth Estate, which informs individuals about communities, governments, businesses and all array of institutions that comprise society.
Just 16 months ago, a longtime Colorado business family bought The Gazette and devoted it to making Colorado Springs a stronger community and Colorado a better state. We hope this Pulitzer Prize symbolizes The Gazette's renewed dedication to serving Colorado Springs and playing a role in making a strong community better.