The Pulitzer Prize given today to Sara Ganim, a 24-year-old reporter for The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., drove home a message one of my journalism professors once conveyed to me: Local papers do great work, too, so be great no matter where you end up living when you grow up.
Of course, there is a Pulitzer category for local reporting, so it’s not exactly unusual that a small paper won the coveted prize. But this one stands out to me not only because Ganim is so young but because she was in my AP intern class – we both did the program in the summer of 2008. Just four years later, she’s a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, and I think she’s a true inspiration for us young journalists who feel we’re getting squeezed out of the field thanks to an economy that was suffocating our industry even before the stock market took its historic downward slide.
This story comes on the same day that online outlets The Huffington Post and Politico also won Pulitzers. But the 24-year-old, one of the youngest journalists ever to win the award (Pulitzer administrator Sig Gissler told Poynter the youngest winner was 23), isn’t part of that narrative. She won the old-fashioned way, in a testament to hard work and passion that I hope doesn’t get buried just because job opportunities are dying.