‘Seattle Times’ on Breaking News Win: One for the ‘Truth Squad’

By: Mark Fitzgerald

For Seattle Times Executive Editor David Boardman, this year’s Pulitzer win was one for the newsroom, one for the community, one for the Blethen family — and one for the “Truth Squad.”

The Seattle Times staff was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting for its coverage — in print and online — of the shooting deaths of four police officers and the manhunt that followed for the suspect.

“This really, really involved the entire newsroom,” said Boardman, interviewed immediately after receiving the news during the American Society of News Editors’ annual conference in Washington D.C. “Literally every category of journalism was involved: investigative reporting, breaking news, photography, videography — we were probably the first newspaper that used Google Wave to break news.”

The win was also a bittersweet one, given the impact the tragedy had on Seattle and the families of the officers who lost their lives. “At the same time, we are very gratified that the community turned to the newspaper at this critical moment,” Boardman added. “You can see we very much matter to people. We were the place people went for the Truth Squad.”

The Seattle Times made use of social networking sites that opened a floodgate of information. The newsroom used all those tools in its reporting but also cleared up misinformation, Boardman said.

The win was especially gratifying for the Seattle Times after a undergoing a brutal year. The joint operating agreement between the Seattle Times, majority owned by the Blethen Family, and the Hearst-published Seattle Post-Intelligencer was finally unwound. The Post-Intelligencer went online-only. The Seattle Times itself seemed in danger of failing.

Said Boardman, “This really is for Frank Blethen and the Blethen family and their diligence and efforts for some of the most difficult and trying times that any newspaper could go through.”

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