Media Forum to Bring Pulitzer Winners to UCO

Media Forum to Bring Pulitzer Winners to UCO

The Pulitzer Prize is awarded for achievements in journalism- newspaper, magazine and online, as well as literature and musical compositions. Several Pulitzer Prize winners will be coming to UCO on Sept. 29 for Mass Communication Week. (Photo provided by Flickr.)

The University of Central Oklahoma will host a Pulitzer Prize celebration Thursday, Sept. 29 in the Liberal Arts College’s Pegasus Theater to commemorate the centennial of the award during Mass Communication Week.

The event, Pulitzer Prize Centennial: The Impact of Trauma Coverage, will include a panel to discuss trauma research and an interview by a war correspondent to two Pulitzer Prize winners, according to Planning Committee Chairman Joe Hight, the endowed chair of journalism ethics in Mass Communication. The event is also free and open to the public.

“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,” Hight said.

UCO’s event will begin at 2 p.m. with Hight giving a short welcome speech. Following the welcoming, Tony Stizza, video director for the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, will introduce a video tribute about Anthony Shadid, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and Oklahoma native, who died in 2012 while on assignment in Syria for The New York Times.

Shadid had spoken at UCO before his death and was also remembered by UCO President Don Betz on his blog page.

“I earnestly tried never to miss one of his reports from the region as he deeply understood the multiple variables at play in any event in the Middle East. He truly was a teacher, as are all true journalists, as he helped us sort fact from flash at this distance,” Betz said.

The event will then move to a panel of four members to discuss Research on Journalists and Coverage of Trauma.

One of the panelists, Dr. Elana Newman, is a professor of Psychology at the University of Tulsa and affiliate faculty of communication and research director of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma. Newman will kick off the panel where she will discuss the current status of research about journalists and the trauma scholarship managed by the Dart Center. 

Newman will also speak on a study about Pulitzer Prize winners who have covered victims of tragedy.

The panel will also include Raymond McCaffrey, a former Washington Post editor and reporter who is currently a director at the University of Arkansas for the Center for Ethics in Journalism; Kenna Griffin, a former reporter for The Oklahoman; and Desiree Hill, a former TV news executive and UCO Mass Communications professor.

All of the panelists are educators who have finished, or are currently conducting, research about the health and/or dilemmas journalists face when covering traumatic events.

Hill is currently working on her dissertation for a Ph.D. on the management behind the coverage of traumatic events. She worked as the executive producer for KWTV News 9 when the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was bombed on April 19, 1995.

“After the bombing, it gave our management teams in Oklahoma City a unique vantage point on how to sort of reinvent the way we deal with our staffs during crisis,” Hill said.

The panel moderator will be UCO graduate Clytie Bunyan, the director of Business and Lifestyles for The Oklahoman and

Following the panel at 3:15, the event will end with war correspondent, documentarian and visiting professor at the University of Oklahoma, Mike Boettcher, interviewing Pulitzer Prize winners Hailey Branson Potts and Charles Porter IV.

Porter won a Pulitzer Prize for his photo of firefighter Chris Fields carrying the young Baylee Almon after the Murrah Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City. Branson Potts was a part of a team for the Los Angeles Times that won a Pulitzer Prize for the coverage of the San Bernardino attack.

UCO’s commemoration is a part of a two-day event during on Sept. 28-29 partnering with the University of Oklahoma and the University of Tulsa, where other events are scheduled to celebrate the centennial of the Pulitzer Prize.

“Understanding what you are going to experience in the field can be healing … the panel is going to prepare our students, I think, before they experience traumatic events in their careers,” Hill said.



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