Post-Gazette earns Pulitzer for synagogue massacre coverage
Pittsburgh Post Gazette retired Executive Editor David Shribman, center, celebrates in the paper’s downtown Pittsburgh newsroom after it was announced that the paper’s staff coverage of the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue last October was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting, Monday, April 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
(Pittsburgh) — The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette won a Pulitzer Prize in breaking news Monday for its coverage of the mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue last year.
The judges called the staff’s work “immersive, compassionate coverage . that captured the anguish and resilience of a community thrust into grief.”
After the Pulitzer announcement, the newsroom observed a moment of silence for the 11 victims of the Oct. 27 massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue building, where three congregations were holding Sabbath services when the attack occurred.
Now-retired executive editor David Shribman, who led the coverage, said he asked that the reaction remain subdued as reporters and editors hugged and congratulated each other.
“At times like this, we all realize why we were put on this Earth, to serve our community, to do our duty, and to redeem the value of the First Amendment,” he said in an interview.
“What we also remember are the deaths of 11 of our neighbors,” he said. “Every one of us would exchange this prize for the lives of those people.”
Andrew Goldstein was one of the first Post-Gazette reporters on the scene. He was home in the city’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood, near the synagogue, when an editor called.
“I said, ‘Oh, my God. I’m going.’ I jumped out of bed, threw on clothes, got into my car and flew down Shady Avenue to Tree of Life,” he said.
FILE PHOTO: A woman visits a memorial for Irving Yougher outside the Tree of Life Synagogue on Monday, Oct. 29, 2018 in Pittsburgh. . (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Goldstein said he was speechless when he heard of the Pulitzer win.
“It’s the greatest honor of my life. I’m so proud to be part of this newsroom,” he said.
But “you have to keep in mind why this has all happened,” he said. “My heart was broken on Oct. 27 and my heart is still broken. This (prize) does not heal the wound. This newsroom did the best we possibly could to bear witness to what certainly is the darkest day in Pittsburgh history.”
Newly appointed executive editor Keith Burris said the award highlights the importance of journalism.
“If we weren’t here, who would tell the story?” he said.
Prosecutors say the man awaiting trial in the attack made anti-Semitic statements before, during and afterward. He has pleaded not guilty, but his attorney has indicated she hopes to resolve the case without going to trial.
The Post-Gazette last won a Pulitzer in 1998, for spot news photography.