A table was piled high with salad and pizza, and maybe a couple of bottles of prosecco. They're the aftermath from a spontaneous party that began Monday afternoon when journalists at the Santa Rosa Press Democrat learned they had won the Pulitzer Prize for their breaking news coverage of the Sonoma County Wildfires.
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"It's the highest award in American journalism," said managing editor Ted Appel.
The Press Democrat today received the Pulitzer Prize, the highest award in American journalism, for its coverage of the October wildfires. See story at https://t.co/7QQFJl5Jcz. #PulitzerPrize #sonomacounty #sonomacountyfires pic.twitter.com/6CYtl72JOP— The Press Democrat (@NorthBayNews) April 16, 2018
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat employs roughly 50 people, many born and raised in the region. They admit to feeling a bit conflicted about receiving such a high honor for reporting a tragedy. "We all showed up and did the best work we could for our community," said reporter Julie Johnson.
From the top down, everyone on staff points to photojournalist Kent Porter, who read the conditions and warned in advance of the fire's potential danger. "It was just momentous."
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"You get to a place where you can see landmarks and the landmarks aren't there anymore, said Kent. "Trees are gone. Houses are gone. People are gone," Porter said.
Generally journalists measure time deadline to deadline There is no looking back except for fact checking. Monday, an overflow of pizza, and an exception.
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