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New Pulitzer Prize Board Members Named

By Kim Brockway

Richard Oppel

Jay T. Harris, publisher of the "San Jose Mercury News," and Richard Oppel, editor of the "Austin American-Statesman," have been elected members of the Pulitzer Prize Board. The announcement was made by George Rupp, president of Columbia University, which awards the annual prizes on the board's recommendation. Members serve a maximum of nine years on the 19-member board.

In his 30 years in journalism, Harris has worked as a reporter, editor, educator and corporate executive. As publisher of the "Mercury News" since 1994, Harris has emphasized more complete coverage of community life, increased the quality and quantity of news about Silicon Valley business and high technology, and launched weekly Spanish and Vietnamese-language newspapers.

After beginning his journalism career as a reporter and editor at the "Wilmington News-Journal (DE)," Harris joined the faculty, and served as assistant dean, of Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism. While at Medill, he designed and launched the American Society of Newspaper Editors' annual national census of minority employment in daily newspapers, which remains the industry benchmark to this day. He worked as a national correspondent and columnist for the Gannett News Service and was executive editor of the "Philadelphia Daily News" before moving to Knight Ridder's corporate staff, where he served as assistant to the president of the Newspaper Division and, later, vice president of operations, where he was responsible for the business operations of nine of the company's newspapers.

Harris is chair of the board of the Bay Area Council and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is a member of the boards of the Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group and the Pacific Council on International Policy, and a member of the National Advisory Board of the Poynter Institute and the Silicon Valley chapter of the American Leadership Forum. His professional work has been recognized with awards from numerous universities, nonprofit and social justice organizations, and national journalism and journalism education organizations, including honorary doctorates from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, his alma mater, and Santa Clara University in California.

Named editor of the "Austin American-Statesman" in 1995, Oppel is responsible for the news and editorial content of the newspaper. Before joining the paper, he was Washington bureau chief for Knight Ridder's 32 daily newspapers, and has worked as a reporter for "The Tampa Tribune," as bureau chief for the Associated Press, and as associate editor of the "Detroit Free Press." He became executive editor of the "Tallahassee Democrat" in 1977, and editor of "The Charlotte Observer" in 1978.

During his 15 years as editor of the "Observer," the paper won two Pulitzer Prizes, both gold medals for meritorious public service; a third was awarded to Doug Marlette for editorial cartooning at the "Observer" and the "Atlanta Constitution." Named the National Press Club's Editor of the Year in 1988, Oppel was president of the North Carolina Press Association and is now president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors.

Oppel has a B.A. in political science from the University of South Florida, attended the Harvard Business School's advanced management program, and served in the U.S. Marine Corps.

The members of the Pulitzer Prize Board are: Rupp; Andrew Barnes, chairman and C.E.O., "St. Petersburg Times"; Louis D. Boccardi, president and chief executive officer, Associated Press; Joann Byrd, editor of the editorial page, "Seattle Post-Intelligencer"; John S. Carroll, editor and executive vice president, "The Los Angeles Times" ; Henry Louis Gates, Jr., W.E.B. DuBois Professor of Humanities, Harvard University; Tom Goldstein, dean, Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University; Doris Kearns Goodwin, historian and biographer; Donald E. Graham, publisher, "The Washington Post"; William B. Ketter, chairman, journalism department, Boston University; Rena Pederson, vice president/editorial page editor, "The Dallas Morning News"; Mike Pride, editor, "Concord (NH) Monitor;" Sandra Mims Rowe, editor, "The Oregonian;" William Safire, columnist, "The New York Times";Edward Seaton, editor in chief, "Manhattan (Kan.) Mercury;" Paul Steiger, managing editor, "The Wall Street Journal," and Seymour Topping, administrator of the Prizes.

Jay T. Harris

It was also announced that the Pulitzer Prize Website has been redesigned and updated to be more comprehensive and user-friendly than ever. Major improvements now allow for simpler searching, more comprehensive information about winners, their work, and Prize history, and details about the nomination and judging process.

Visitors can use the timeline that stretches across the top of the homepage to access lists of winners and citations for each year since 1917, and use the archives to find - by entering a key word, category, or year - specific winners. The names of nominated finalists since1980 (no finalists were announced prior to then) and the publishers of all Pulitzer Prize-winning books are also included in the database.

In addition, visitors can enter a keyword to search the complete texts of articles and biographies of winners since1995 - for example, to find all winning stories that mentioned Kosovo, or winners who attended Columbia University. For awards presented since1995, users can access the text of the winning stories, or see the winning photos and cartoons, as well as a biography of each winner, the names of the nominating jurors, and a photo from that year's awards presentation.

The website also includes a history of the Prizes, written by Seymour Topping, the administrator of the Priz;es since 1993, a brief biography of Joseph Pulitzer, including a description of the provisions in his will which established the Pulitzer Prizes, and a chronicle of the year-long administration process, in which 21 awards are selected from more than 2,000 entries.

Current entry forms and guidelines for submitting materials, how to contact the Pulitzer Prize office, are posted, as well as links to the Graduate School of Journalism, the Journalism Library's Pulitzer Collection and the Newseum's exhibition, "The Pulitzer Prize Photographs: Capture the Moment."

Additional improvements to the site include a series of answers to Frequently Asked Questions and a "What's New" page with information on Prize-related news, such as rule changes, new board members, and dates of future events.

Published: Jan 23, 2001
Last modified: Sep 18, 2002

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