Pulitzer winner Barry’s 1996 report from Russia

Ellen Barry

While the Boston Globe’s visual-arts critic, Sebastian Smee, continues to receive well-deserved accolades for his Pulitzer Prize, it is less well-known that another of yesterday’s Pulitzer winners has strong Boston ties, too.

Ellen Barry of the New York Times, who shared the award for international reporting with her Times colleague Clifford Levy, is a former reporter for the Globe and the Boston Phoenix. Ellen and I worked together at the Phoenix in the mid-1990s.

In 1996, she reported from Russia for the Phoenix on Boris Yeltsin’s re-election campaign — and wrote a classic story headlined “Generation Nyet.” The folks at the Phoenix have dug the story of their archives and linked to it anew. It is well worth your time, as is Phoenix editor Carly Carioli’s tribute.

Boston Globe returns to Pulitzer circle

Sebastian Smee

The Boston Globe has won its first Pulitzer in three years. Sebastian Smee, the paper’s visual-arts critic, takes home the prize for criticism. Here is the story the Globe ran when Smee was hired in 2008. Here are links to his reviews.

Another winner with local ties is Ellen Barry of the New York Times, who shares the award for international reporting with her colleague Clifford Levy. Barry worked at both the Boston Phoenix and the Globe before moving to the Times.

The big surprise: no winner in breaking-news reporting.

The complete list of Pulitzer winners is here.

Needed: A fuller report from Kazakhstan


My old Boston Phoenix colleague Ellen Barry, now the stellar Russia correspondent for the New York Times, weighs in with a surprisingly by-the-numbers report on the weekend election in Kazakhstan. The country’s authoritarian president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, was re-elected with 95.5 percent of the vote, according to the government.

For some perspective, I read Adil Nurmakov’s recent analysis at Global Voices Online. Nurmakov, who is Global Voices’ Central Asia editor, wrote on March 4 that the election campaign was something of a farce, explaining that the opposition was boycotting the proceedings (which Barry also acknowledges) and adding:

The process of candidates nomination was perceived by many as a circus — and it really resembled a carousel of comic characters, including pensioners, some small businessmen and the person, notoriously known for his startling behavior. Interestingly, an overwhelming majority of those 18 nominees were publicly voicing their “utter support” of the current head of the state.

Above is a video interview I conducted with Nurmakov in Almaty, Kazakhstan, in April 2009, when I was taking part in the Nazarbayev-sponsored Eurasian Media Forum.

Meanwhile, on Friday the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) issued an alert regarding the disappearance of Daniyar Moldashev, who is essentially the publisher of the Almaty-based opposition newspaper Respublika. Prior to his disappearance he was assaulted, according to CPJ.

“We are gravely concerned about the health and well-being of Daniyar Moldashev and call on Kazakh authorities to positively determine his whereabouts and ensure his safety,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia program coordinator Nina Ognianova said in a statement on the organization’s website.

Here is a Q&A I conducted with Respublika journalist Yevgeniya Plakhina last June. I met Plakhina at the Eurasian Media Forum, where she protested proposed restrictions on the Internet (those restrictions were later adopted). Several of her friends were arrested and released a short time later.

Because of its oil and gas reserves, Kazakhstan is an important country on the world scene. In reading Barry’s story, you can almost sense that she wrote parts of it with an arched eyebrow. I hope the Times will give her the time and space she needs to take a closer look at what’s really going on in Kazakhstan.

Monday night update: Barry already has a good follow-up. This story will bear watching.