Pulitzer Label Problem? Journalists Will Fix that For You. Pt II: Bud Ward

Honestly, when I said in my previous post that one of the founders of Society of Environmental Journalists’ (SEJ) walked back Ross Gelbspan’s “Pulitzer-winner” label at the same time the SEJ itself was calling Gelbspan a “Pulitzer-winner”, I gave SEJ co-founder Bud Ward too much credit. If anything, Ward inadvertently dug a bigger hole for Gelbspan by dancing around the application of the label.

Make no mistake about it, in anticipation of the August 2004 release of Gelbspan’s “Boiling Point” book, SEJ writers clearly said in their Summer 2004 SEJournal (full text here), “… Pulitzer Prize-winner Gelbspan, who recently released his own global warming book, ‘Boiling Point.’” No nuanced phrasing there, thus no doubt about what the label meant.

At the same time, SEJ co-founder Bud Ward‘s July/August 2004 Environment Writer magazine had a review of “Boiling Point, where just three paragraphs into it, we see this unabashed label: (bold emphasis mine, full text here)

With the fine eye and writing style of a member of Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting team, which the new book touts on its cover, Gelbspan takes no prisoners.

Don’t forget what the cover touts: “Ross Gelbspan Winner of THE PULITZER PRIZE“. No nuanced phrasing there, no doubt what the label meant.

But just a half dozen paragraphs into Environment Writer‘s review, we see this treatment:

On the bookʼs cover, in his preface and in recent talks, Gelbspan seems almost to enjoy his critics having focused on his earlier claims to a Pulitzer while an editor with the Globe. …  He explains in the preface to the new book that he had “conceived and edited” the Globe series on systematic job discrimination against African Americans …. The Globeʼs editor and publisher chose him to receive the Pulitzer on behalf of the paper, and included his photo and bio along with those of other team members under the headline “Pulitzer Prize Winners.”

Teensy little problem there. The Pulitzer organization awarded its prize to seven reporters at the Globe in 1984, not to the entire paper nor to any ‘team’. Notice in two prior Journalism categories immediately above the Globe‘s at that screencapture link, the Pulitzer organization named the Los Angeles Times in the first spot, and the “Newsday team of reporters” in the second spot.

The Globeʼs editor and publisher may choose whoever he wants to pick up the Prize, and can declare the newspaper’s intern staff to be part of its ‘team members’, but that does not alter the Pulitzer’s official Prize recipients list of seven Globe reporters one bit.

Bud Ward and his Environment Writer magazine didn’t walk back the Pulitzer label like Gelbspan did in his “Boiling Point” preface about being a ‘Pulitzer co-recipient’. He didn’t bother to specifically mention the “co-recipient” words at all or anything about what was actually said about Gelbspan’s claims of being a Pulitzer winner.

So, what we have here from Bud Ward is little more than half the story, with the basic idea of trusting Gelbspan as some kind of highly regarded investigative journalist who found smoking gun proof that skeptic climate scientists are shills paid by the fossil fuel industry to lie to the public. Imagine what would happen if objective open-minded journalists became offended by inexplicable efforts to distract people from seeing through Gelbspan’s Pulitzer winner label…. they might dare to question whether his entire accusation narrative against skeptic climate scientists has any merit