KU graduate wins Pulitzer Prize for reporting
A KU graduate won a prestigious Pulitzer Prize this week for explanatory
Kevin Helliker, a Kansas City, Kan., native who earned a bachelor’s
degree in English literature from KU in 1982, won the award with fellow
Wall Street Journal reporter Thomas M. Burton for their “groundbreaking”
examination of aneurysms.
“Kevin came to the journalism school with a creative writing background
and a strong desire to learn marketable journalism skills that would lead
to a good job,” said Ted Frederickson, professor of journalism at
KU. “By the end of my beginning reporting class, it was clear that
Kevin would have his choice of numerous good job offers.
Ironically, his first [University Daily] Kansan story was about Lawrence’s
underground artists—people who considered themselves musicians,
novelists and sculptors but who had to work day jobs to pay the rent.
In a sense, he was one of them—a creative writer who was looking
for a way that his writing would lead to a good job.
“To his credit, his Pulitzer-winning series on aneurysms shows that
he brought his creative writing skills with him to his new profession,”
The prize is worth $10,000. The awards are given by Columbia University
on the recommendation of the 18-member Pulitzer board, which considers
nominations from jurors in each category. A complete list of Pulitzer
winners is online at www.pulitzer.org.
Helliker, who is the Journal’s Chicago bureau chief, began his journalism
career in the Journal’s Houston bureau as a reporter in 1982.
Other KU graduates who recently have won Pulitzer Prizes include:
• Pat Gaston, 1981 graduate, and Mary Carter, 1986 graduate, were
editors on the Dallas Morning News team that won in 1994 for international
reporting for a series on violence against women in Africa.
• Jeff Taylor, 1990 gradute, won in 1992 for a series on the U.S.
Department of Agriculture in the Kansas City Star. Sharing the award were
Star editor Mark Zieman, 1984 graduate, and illustrator David Eames, 1989
• Wall Street Journal Washington Bureau Chief Jerry Seib, 1978 graduate,
won in 2002 as part of the Journal team that won for Sept. 11, 2001, coverage.
• William Allen White, class of 1890 and after whom KU’s journalism
school is named, won in 1923 for editorial writing.