Feminist Schultz Thrilled to Win Commentary Prize

By: Dave Astor Connie Schultz is thrilled to win the Pulitzer Prize as a columnist who's a woman, a feminist, from a working-class background, not syndicated, and a staffer on a newspaper -- The Plain Dealer of Cleveland -- she feels deserves more prominence than it has.

"I'm very happy for The Plain Dealer because [the commentary Pulitzer] helps put us on the map," Schultz told E&P. "A lot of great people work here -- including my editor, Stuart Warner. There's no way I would have won the Pulitzer without him."

At a time of great debate about why there aren't more women on Op-Ed pages, Schultz's win underscores that there are many great female writers out there. To find them, said Schultz, newspapers and syndicates need to look to America's heartland -- not just to the East and West coasts.

Schultz, 47, added that her working-class roots -- her father was a factory worker and her mother a nurse's aide -- permeates her writing as she tries to give a voice to those often voiceless. One of her Pulitzer-winning columns focused on a coat-check person at a party center who, after her hard days of work, was forced to give the contents of her bulging tip jar to management. "I received 1,200 responses to that column before noon," recalled Schultz. She said that at many companies management takes workers' tips, but, at least in this case, the party center backed off this policy after it was embarrassed by Schultz's column.

Her other Pulitzer-winning pieces focused on topics such as a wrongly imprisoned man, the carrying of concealed weapons, and gay rights.

The Ohio native -- who writes about local and national topics -- was greeted by loud applause as she came to the office today at around 1 p.m. Plain Dealer staffers knew she had won two hours before the official 3 p.m. Pulitzer announcement, which brought Schultz another round of loud applause. "I was so moved," she said.

Schultz began her twice-weekly column in 2002, after nine years of working for The Plain Dealer as a general-assignment reporter and feature writer. "It was so nice to finally be able to give my opinion about what I cover," said Schultz, who does reporting for about 80% of her pieces while also doing some personal columns.

She noted that some personal columns get more response than weightier columns; Schultz recalled receiving about 800 e-mails for a piece she did about her hair -- twice what she received for the column about the wrongly incarcerated man. But she said personal columns can make readers who disagree with her more willing to read the non-personal pieces.


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