At some point, we’ll round up some of the better deadline storytelling from the past two weeks’ historic news out of Boston and Texas and Washington, D.C., and Mississippi and Cambridge and Watertown, but let’s end the week on a positive note, by remembering the great work of this year’s recently announced Pulitzer winner and finalists. In the features category, John Branch of the New York Times won for his narrative in the widely admired celebrated package “Snow Fall,” about a deadly avalanche in Washington State and the science behind such disasters. A passage:
Saugstad was mummified. She was on her back, her head pointed downhill. Her goggles were off. Her nose ring had been ripped away. She felt the crushing weight of snow on her chest. She could not move her legs. One boot still had a ski attached to it. She could not lift her head because it was locked into the ice.
But she could see the sky. Her face was covered only with loose snow. Her hands, too, stuck out of the snow, one still covered by a pink mitten. Using her hands like windshield wipers, she tried to flick snow away from her mouth. When she clawed at her chest and neck, the crumbs maddeningly slid back onto her face. She grew claustrophobic.
Breathe easy, she told herself. Do not panic. Help will come. She stared at the low, gray clouds. She had not noticed the noise as she hurtled down the mountain. Now, she was suddenly struck by the silence.
The two finalists were Kelley Benham, of the Tampa Bay Times, for “Never Let Go,” an elegant narrative series about her “micro-preemie” daughter, and the Washington Post’s Eli Saslow, author of “Life of a salesman,” a beautifully done piece about a swimming pool salesman struggling in a debilitating economy. For the stories behind the stories: Branch walked a University of Georgia and Twitter audience through “Snow Fall” recently; Benham’s colleague Ben Montgomery talked to her about “Never Let Go” for Storyboard; and Storyboard spoke with Saslow in detail about his salesman piece and more.
For the full list of Pulitzer winners and finalists, go here. Warm congrats to all, and thank you for your work.