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ISSUE 115 VOL 18 PUBLISHED 4/19/2002

Alumnae snag Pulitzer Prizes

By Julie Gunderson
News Editor

Friday, April 19, 2002

It’s not exactly your rags to riches story, but for St. Olaf alums Gretchen Morgenson and Carla Baranauckas, it was a rise from the green pastures of St. Olaf’s campus to greener pastures in the world of journalism. Both received Pulitzer Prizes, announced April 8, for their work at the New York Times.

Morgenson, a 1976 graduate and current business and financial editor at the Times, was awarded the Pulitzer for beat reporting for her coverage of Wall Street.

Baranauckus, a 1977 graduate, along with Morgenson and 150 other Times reporters, received the Pulitzer for "public service" for their work on the special series "A Nation Challenged" chronicling the events of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Baranauckus and Morgenson worked on the "Portraits of Grief," which ran as part of the special series. These portraits profiled the victims of the attack and ran every day from September until the end of the year.

Even though each profile was short, only about 200 words, Baranauckus said that the interview process for the portraits was lengthy and emotional.

"Although only a small portion of the interviews went into the paper; the interviews were quite long as it was sometimes difficult to get loved ones to open up and talk about the victim’s life," Baranauckus said.

The portraits will be featured in a soon to be published book.

Baranauckus believed that there were multiple reasons why the Times special series won the high-profiled award.

"Our location and the amount of resources that our newspaper has allowed us to cover these tragic events in-depth and from many different angles," Baranauckus said. "Because of our location we had an advantage in providing details and graphics."

Morgenson, a graduate of St. Olaf’s Paracollege with a degree in English and History has been on top of the journalism world for sometime. Before joining the Times in 1998, Morgenson was an assisting managing editor at Forbes magazine, an editor and staff writer at Worth magazine and a financial columnist for Money magazine and Vogue. Morgenson has been a recipient of other awards for personal finance reporting and for deadline reporting on the financial markets. She is also the author of the book "Forbes Great Minds of Business."

Morgenson credited her former St. Olaf English professor, David Wee, with helping her advance her writing skills. After winning her award, she wrote Wee, currently on sabbatical, a personal thank you note.

"It’s why we teach," Wee said. "It was very gratifying to see a former student receive such a prestigious award."

Baranauckus transferred to St. Olaf as a junior and was both a writer and editor on the Messenger. She credits the St. Olaf curriculum as preparing her for a career in the journalism profession.

"As a liberal arts college, St. Olaf offers an education which covers a wide variety of areas," Baranauckus said. "St. Olaf also puts a high premium on writing skills."

Baranauckus is currently pursuing a mid-career Masters degree at Columbia University where she already teaches in the journalism graduate program. Baranauckus is also the assistant to the editor on the continuous news desk at the Times.

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