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Reporters Seymour Hersh and Matt Pacenza Receive Columbia Journalism Awards

By Caroline Ladhani

Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh and City Limits magazine associate editor Matt Pacenza are receiving prizes for excellence in journalism awarded by the faculty of Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism.

Hersh will receive the 2003 Columbia Journalism Award for singular journalistic performance in the public interest at the school's May 21 commencement ceremony. Pacenza received the 2003 Mike Berger Award on Journalism Day, May 20, for outstanding reporting on the lives of ordinary citizens in New York City.

"Seymour Hersh has for 30 years led the field of investigative journalism, informing the public and discomforting those who have deceived the citizenry, forming one of the bulwarks protecting our democratic freedoms," said Interim Dean David A. Klatell. "His work has been crucial in the continuing battles against government evasions and dissembling, and he has done all this without fear or favor, and with a modesty that belies the importance of his efforts," Klatell added. The Columbia Journalism Award, is the highest award given annually by the faculty of the Journalism School.

Of Matt Pacenza's reporting, which appears in the monthly print publication City Limits and the electronic City Limits Weekly, the Journalism faculty said, "Pacenza's work stands out for its range and ambition. In the tradition of Meyer Berger, his stories bring to life seldom-heard and seldom-seen people. They also tackle large and complex ideas in ways that are refreshing, illuminating and challenging."

Hersh, a 1970 Pulitzer-Prize winner, contributes regularly to The New Yorker's "Annals of National Security." His work first gained wide recognition in 1969 for exposing the My Lai massacre and its cover-up during the Vietnam War, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting.

The University of Chicago graduate is a native of that city and began his career in journalism as a police reporter for the City News Bureau in 1959. He later became a correspondent for United Press International in South Dakota, and in 1963 went on to become a Chicago and Washington D.C. correspondent for the Associated Press. Five years later, Hersh was hired as a reporter for the New York Times' Washington Bureau, where he served from 1972-75 and again in 1979.

His book "The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House" won him the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Los Angeles Times book prize in biography among other honors. Hersh has also written a total of eight books and contributed to a PBS television documentary, "Buying the Bomb," in 1985.

Matt Pacenza received the 2003 Mike Berger Award for his body of work over the course of 2002, exploring important policy issues in housing and poverty through stories about individual New Yorkers. Examples include accounts of a low-income resident's legal battle against eviction and a nonprofit housing organization's struggles to rebuild East Harlem.

Matt Pacenza

Prior to joining City Limits in 2001, Pacenza wrote neighborhood news stories that appeared in several publications including the New York Observer and Newsday. Originally from upstate New York, Pacenza earned a bachelor's degree in environmental policy from Cornell University in 1993. Before pursuing a journalism career, Pacenza traveled to Guatemala as a human rights observer and educator. He also did public relations for a university theater and became a community educator for an organ and tissue bank. Pacenza earned a master's degree in journalism in 2000 from New York University.

Pacenza won 2002 National Association of Real Estate Editor awards for Best Magazine Report, Best Young Journalist and Overall Individual Winner, for his series of articles on New York City's $1 billion effort to collect defaulted property tax debt.

He will receive $1,000 as winner of the Mike Berger Award, which honors the legendary New York Times reporter whose stories often focused on the lives of ordinary New York City citizens. The prize was created in 1960, a year after Berger's death, by Louis Schweitzer, a New York industrialist and admirer of Berger's writing.

Following the presentation of the Mike Berger award on Journalism Day, Tuesday, May 20, the witty and widely read syndicated columnist Molly Ivins delivered the annual Henry F. Pringle Memorial Lecture on covering national affairs.

Ivins, whose column on politics regularly appears in more than 100 newspapers nationwide, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1985 and 1988. Her work has also appeared in numerous publications including Esquire, Atlantic, The Nation, Harper's, Mother Jones and TV Guide. She is the author of four books, most recently "Shrub: The Short But Happy Political Life of George W. Bush" co-authored with Lou Dubose, and she has also been a commentator on television and radio.

Ivins grew up in Houston, and after earning a B.A. from Smith College, received a master's from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. In 1970, she was named co-editor of the Texas Observer, a liberal monthly covering Texas politics and social events. She has also written for the Houston Chronicle and the Minneapolis Star Tribune. In 1977, she became a political reporter for The New York Times and later became the Times' Rocky Mountain bureau chief. Ivins received the 1992 Headliner's Award for best column in Texas. In 1976, she was honored as an outstanding alumna by the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism's Alumni Association, and she served as a Pulitzer Prize juror in 1992.

Published: May 21, 2003
Last modified: May 23, 2003

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