The word “harrowing” is an overused cliché, but it’s exactly the right word to describe Janelle Nanos’ story about an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse, published by The Boston Globe Magazine last summer. Nanos’ 11,000-word account of Kate Price’s long quest to learn the truth about what had happened to her was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in feature writing; this year’s Pulitzers were announced on Monday.
Price remembers being raped by her father — possibly starting when she was as young as 3 — and being pimped out to other men who he would contact via CB radio. She has spent her adult life trying to nail down the details, and by the end of the story we learn that she’s succeeded in coming about as close as she’ll probably ever get to proving that her memories are real.
Nanos, a reporter and editor for the Globe’s business section, has been following Price for 10 years and is currently expanding it into a book. The personal tone she takes is handled deftly, enhancing the narrative by making herself part of Price’s journey. Her story also helps puncture the argument, still made in some circles, that claims of childhood sexual abuse are not to be believed because memories of such abuse are not reliable.
More from the Pulitzer announcements:
• Anna Wolfe of the nonprofit news organization Mississippi Today was one of two winners in local reporting for her coverage of former Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, who directed that state welfare money amounting to millions of dollars be given to family members and friends, including NFL quarterback Brett Favre. I mention this because Mary Margaret White, the CEO of Mississippi Today, was a guest last fall on the “What Works” podcast that Ellen Clegg and I host.
• Ukraine was the subject of several Pulitzers, including the prestigious public service award, won by four journalists for The Associated Press for what the Pulitzer board called their “courageous reporting from the besieged city of Mariupol that bore witness to the slaughter of civilians in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.” The New York Times won the international reporting award and The AP photo staff won for breaking news photography. The Times’ Lynsey Addario’s photo of an entire family that had been killed while they were trying to flee the suburb of Irbin, perhaps the best-known image of the war, was a finalist in breaking news photography.
• The Los Angeles Times won the award for breaking news reporting for revealing the existence of an audio recording in which several city officials are heard engaging in bluntly racist speech, leading to follow-up stories and resignations. It’s a worthy winner in any case, but I mention it because of a similar recent story in McCurtain County, Oklahoma, where several officials resigned under nearly identical circumstances.
The big difference: The Los Angeles audio was leaked anonymously to the Times, whereas the Oklahoma audio was captured by the McCurtain Gazette-News, whose publisher-reporter left his recorder behind after a meeting ended because he suspected that officials would continue to discuss county business in violation of the open meeting law. That, in turn, has led to a dispute over whether the Gazette-News broke the law by making a secret recording.