California reporters and papers share Pulitzer prestige
LOS ANGELES – California reporters for The Associated Press and the Wall Street Journal and a Los Angeles Times writer based in Atlanta were among Pulitzer Prize winners Monday.
Martha Mendoza, based in San Jose, was part of the AP team recognized for a series uncovering the alleged mass killings of South Korean civilians by American troops at the start of the Korean War. They won the prize for investigative reporting.
J.R. Moehringer, an Atlanta-based Los Angeles Times reporter, was honored for feature writing for a 10,000-word narrative about tiny and isolated Gee’s Bend, Ala., where slave descendants still live on the land worked by their ancestors.
Anne Marie Squeo was part of the Wall Street Journal team that won a Pulitzer for national reporting on U.S. defense spending and military deployment in the post-Cold War era.
The AP’s account of U.S. soldiers gunning down hundreds of South Korean civilians at No Gun Ri had never been reported. It was written by AP Special Correspondent Charles J. Hanley, Mendoza, and Sang-hun Choe, who is based in South Korea. Researcher Randy Herschaft contributed to the project.
”We are very grateful to win this award,” Mendoza said from Phoenix.
”We’re appreciative that the Pulitzer jury recognized the significance of this story, but our celebration is tempered by the nature of what we confirmed. A lot of people died and a lot of lives were ruined.” She thanked the Army veterans who helped the reporters, ”and most of all the Korean survivors who helped us in our quest for the truth.”
Mendoza, 33, recently became a national investigative reporter for the AP after working as San Jose correspondent. A graduate of the University of California at Santa Cruz, joined the AP in 1995 after working for the Santa Cruz County Sentinel, Madera Tribune and Bay City News Service.
Moehringer, 35, celebrated in the Times’ main newsroom in Los Angeles with a staff that has recently been shaken by an ethics scandal involving stories about the Staples Center arena and by sale of the paper to Tribune Co.
”I’m totally overwhelmed,” Moehringer said, taking time out from a small champagne celebration at the paper’s national desk with researcher Edith Stanley, who first told him about Gee’s Bend, and Bret Israel, who edited the story.
”People greeted this with relief because this has been a rough year, and it’s nice to have something to celebrate rather than commiserate,” Moehringer said.
Moehringer, formerly with the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, joined the Times’ Orange County bureau in 1994 and moved to Atlanta two years ago.
Squeo joined the Wall Street Journal a year ago and the prize-winner was her first Page 1 story.
The 32-year-old reporter worked at Bloomberg business news for six years before joining the Journal in Washington in May 1999. She’s now covering the defense industry in Los Angeles for the Journal.
”This is a dream. So was joining the Journal,” the 32-year-old Santa Monica resident said.
Speaking by cell phone on her way to work, she said she would probably celebrate with champagne ”at a local bar, I guess.” She didn’t have to wait that long or go that far though – there was champagne on ice at the office.