Former Maroon staffers win Pulitzer Prizes

The staff of the Times-Picayune broke open the liquor bottles after their win on Monday.

The staff of the Times-Picayune broke open the liquor bottles after their win on Monday.

Jared Bailey

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Each outgoing editor in chief of The Maroon is given a bottle of scotch that is not to be opened until he or she wins a Pulitzer Prize, the most respected award in journalism.

Mary Chauvin opened her bottle on Monday evening.

Chauvin, former Maroon editor and a page designer and copy editor for The Times-Picayune, was one of more than 200 people in the paper’s newsroom hovering over computer screens waiting for the Associated Press to report this year’s Pulitzer winners.

“The energy was electric,” Chauvin said. “We were all waiting – we all wanted to know.”

The Times-Picayune newsroom erupted with emotion when the staff found out that they had won two awards, according to Chauvin.

One of the Pulitzers was awarded to the staff for public service. The Pulitzer Board honored the paper for its “heroic, multi-faceted coverage of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, making exceptional use of the newspaper’s resources to serve an inundated city even after evacuation of the newspaper plant.”

The other Pulitzer awarded to The Times-Picayune staff was for breaking news. The Pulitzer Board lauded the paper’s “courageous and aggressive coverage of Hurricane Katrina, overcoming desperate conditions facing the city and the newspaper.”

After evacuating their office on Howard Avenue, the staff found themselves struggling to piece together an online edition in Houma. Chauvin played a vital role in publishing The Times-Picayune online during the first few days following the storm.

“I just remembered how I used to put The Maroon together and I went from there,” Chauvin said. “I felt like I was putting it together with thumb tacks and duct tape,”

Chauvin said.

“I never thought as a copy editor that it would feel like it was mine. But it does – I feel like every person on staff owns these Pulitzers.”

In 1997, Bob Marshall, outdoors editor for The Times-Picayune and news editor in the fall of 1970 for The Maroon, was the first Loyola alumnus to win a Pulitzer Prize.

“This time the mood was much more personal. There were a lot more tears and a lot less rumpus,” Marshall said.

According to Marshall, the staff of The Times-Picayune was much more personally involved in this effort than in anything they have ever done before.

“This truly was a work of the entire paper,” Marshall said. “So many of our staff members lost so much – our own personal experiences reflected that of the city’s.”

Four other former Maroon staffers shared in the Pulitzer. They are Ed Anderson, John McCusker, Bruce Nolan and Joan Treadway. McCusker and Nolan remained in the flooded city after the storm.

Jared Bailey can be reached at [email protected]

John McCusker, a former Maroon staffer and Loyola graduate, smokes a cigar. The Times-Picayune staff gathered at Monkey Hill on Monday evening to celebrate the paper winning two Pulitzer Prizes.

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