Follow-Up: A Pulitzer to Our Local Paper

Pulitzer for Breaking News

By way of addendum to our post earlier this week about the Storm Lake Times’ Pulitzer prize: Our local East Bay Times also won a Pulitzer, for its coverage of the Ghost Ship fire.

The Ghost Ship was a warehouse that was serving as an unpermitted artists’ work space and living quarters. It burned down in December 2016, killing 36 mostly young people attending a concert.

The local Mercury News (“the Merc”) covered the awarding of the Pulitzer:

The East Bay Times has won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news for its coverage of December’s Ghost Ship fire — the fifth time a Bay Area News Group paper has gained journalism’s highest award.

In a Monday announcement, the judges said the Times received the award “for relentless coverage of the ‘Ghost Ship’ fire, which killed 36 people at a warehouse party, and for reporting after the tragedy that exposed the city’s failure to take actions that might have prevented it.”

Bay Area News Group journalists, who produce coverage for the Times and the Mercury News, were the first to uncover problems with the city’s inspections and permitting of the Ghost Ship building, initially reporting the issue on BANG websites less than 12 hours after the Dec. 2 blaze. In subsequent days and weeks, the coverage expanded to encompass the lives of the victims, mostly young artists and musicians, and the housing crisis that has driven so many Bay Area residents into substandard dwellings like the Ghost Ship.

A narrative story, “The Last Hours of the Ghost Ship,” won enormous praise for taking readers inside the warehouse as the fire started, then raged out of control, and Oakland firefighters fought to save those inside. In the months since, BANG journalists have continued to report on the system breakdowns that allowed so many people to cram into a firetrap whose dangers should have been obvious. City officials have now begun to overhaul their fire inspection and other practices.

The Pulitzer citation, with links to the East Bay Times’s articles, is here.

(Image: Ghost Ship. By Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)