Pulitzer Prize Winner Crewdson Among Tribune D.C. Bureau Layoffs

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By: E&P Staff

Among the journalists let go in Tribune Co.’s consolidation of its Washington, D.C., bureau was John Crewdson, who won the 1981 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting when he was with The New York Times and, at the Chicago Tribune seven years later, exposed possible scientific misconduct in the discovery of the HIV virus.

Also told they were going when two top Chicago Tribune editors visited the D.C. bureau Wednesday were Stephen Hedges and Bay Fang, who were national correspondents, and national security correspondent Aamer Madhani.

The firings were first reported by Chicago Reader media critic Mike Miner on his blog.

Miner noted that two French scientists at the Pasteur Institute were awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine — but American scientist Robert Gallo, another pioneer in HIV/AIDS research, was not.

“This result might be interpreted as the ultimate vindication of reporter John Crewdson, who in 1988, in a 50,000-word story in the Chicago Tribune, argued that Gallo — credited back then with co-discovering the virus — had merely rediscovered (Luc) Montagnier’s virus, which had been sent to Gallo as a professional courtesy,” Miner wrote.

When Crewdson took on the HIV virus story he was given plenty of time — too much, in the opinion of some wags in the Tribune newsroom, who devised a calendar marking the number of days since his byline last appeared in the newspaper. “Crewdson’s project, disparaged among the Tribune newsroom’s rank and file back then because it kept him out of the paper reporting for an astonishing 20 months, is recalled today as a high-water mark from an era when the Tribune was rich, powerful, and audacious,” Miner wrote.

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