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May 2, 2008

School of Journalism Announces 2008 Berger Award
Winner for Best Human-Interest Reporting

Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism today announced that Michael Paulson, the religion reporter at The Boston Globe, is the winner of the 2008 Mike Berger Award for his four-part series, “Ma Siss’s Place: The Birth of a Church.” The prize, named after the late New York Times reporter Meyer “Mike” Berger, is conferred by the Journalism School for the best in-depth, human-interest reporting.

Michael Paulson
Michael Paulson

Nicholas Lemann, dean of the Journalism School, will present Paulson with the award, along with a $1,000 honorarium, on Tuesday, May 20 during the school’s annual Journalism Day celebration.

“This award,” said Lemann, “honors exceptional writing on the lives of everyday people.”

Michael Paulson was a member of the Globe team whose reporting on clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic Church was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for public service in 2003. The Religion Communicators Council granted him its Wilbur Award four years in a row for writing about religion in the secular media, from 2003 to 2006.

Before joining The Boston Globe, Paulson worked at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer as a city hall reporter, state house bureau chief in Olympia and Washington correspondent in Washington, D.C.

The Berger Committee, comprised of journalism faculty members, noted:  “Michael Paulson’s powerful series on the life and times of a small Boston church and its congregants represents newspaper writing at its best. Poignant, insightful and unsparing in what it tells about faith, doubt, struggle and redemption, it is work that does the tradition of Meyer Berger proud.”

Berger inaugurated the Times’ “About New York” column in the 1950s and set the standard for thought-provoking reporting about the lives of ordinary people. Louis Schweitzer, a New York industrialist who admired Berger’s work, created the prize in 1960.

The finalists for this year’s award included Ellen Barry, a reporter for The New York Times and Lane DeGregory, a writer for the St. Petersburg Times. For more information about the Mike Berger Award, visit www.jrn.columbia.edu/events/berger/.