Author of ‘Pulitzer’s Gold’ to discuss coveted award, journalism

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A veteran journalist who wrote the book that traces the century-long history of the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service will discuss the coveted award and journalism in general during a free public lecture on the University Park campus.

Roy Harris, who has worked for some of the nation’s most respected news organizations during his 40-year career, will present a lecture titled “Pulitzer’s Gold” at 6 p.m. Sept. 20 in Foster Auditorium of Paterno Library. The lecture title mirrors that of his critically acclaimed book, which was initially published in 2007 and updated in 2016 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Pulitzer Prize.

“Pulitzer’s Gold” is the only book to focus on the long history of the coveted Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. The prize, which recognizes some of the media’s greatest achievements, is awarded annually to a news organization rather than to individuals, and takes the form of the Joseph Pulitzer Gold Medal. 

The book has earned Harris praise from Bob Woodward of The Washington Post as “the master historian of the Pulitzer Prize.” Woodward said the book provides the real inside story of the most serious journalism of the last century, and as a result provided a brilliant portrait of America.” Likewise, the late Jeff Zaslow, whose books included the best-selling “The Last Lecture,” co-authored with Randy Pausch, said, “Pulitzer’s Gold is a goldmine of inspiration for both journalists and non-journalists [that] offers marvelous storytelling, real-life adventures, and absolute proof that journalism can change our world for the better.”

Harris, whose father was a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, began research on the book in 2002, when he returned to St. Louis to make a presentation, on the 100th anniversary of his father’s birth, about the five Public Service Pulitzers won by the Post-Dispatch. That research led to the first edition of “Pulitzer’s Gold.”

Harris worked for The Wall Street Journal for 23 years (1971-1994) and as senior editor of CFO Magazine for 13 years. He also served as national president of the American Society of Business Publication Editors, and he remains president emeritus of its not-for-profit ASBPE Foundation. He is a regular contributor about journalism prizes to the website of the St. Petersburg, Florida-based Poynter Institute. 

Harris attended Northwestern University, where he was managing editor of the Daily Northwestern. After graduation, he took a job with the Los Angeles Times, where one of his assignments was helping cover the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. He served in the U.S. Army in Germany, where he edited a battalion newspaper, before returning to Northwestern to earn his master’s degree and initially joining The Wall Street Journal to cover the aluminum industry in Pittsburgh. 

The lecture is co-sponsored by University Libraries and the Department of Journalism in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications.

Last Updated September 19, 2017