IRW interns contribute to Pulitzer finalists

A Washington Post podcast. (Katty Huertas/The Washington Post)

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Reporting, research aids story development

The Washington Post was awarded three Pulitzers this week, for national reporting on abortion; for feature writing about post-pandemic America; and for a biography of George Floyd in the category of best general nonfiction.

The Post also was honored to have five entries announced as Pulitzer finalists.

Former students Vanessa Montalbano, McKenzie BeardMegan Ruggles and Carley Welch researched hundreds of court cases as part of their contributions to one of those finalists: the podcast “Broken Doors,” recognized in the audio reporting category. All were students in the graduate practicum at The Post led by John Sullivan, an associate investigations editor there and interim executive editor at IRW.

Former IRW interns Eva Herscowitz and IRW fellow alum Meryl Kornfield earned bylines on “Cartel Rx” which was honored as a Pulitzer Prize finalist for Public Service for the multi-story investigation of the fentanyl crisis ravaging families across America. Herscowitz came to the Post as part of her summer fellowship at IRW in 2022 and stayed on to complete the work. Kornfield worked as a researcher and reporter at The Post in 2019 through an IRW summer fellowship and was later hired full-time by The Post.

IRW’s partnership with The Washington Post brings young journalists together with Post reporters in two ways: through our graduate practicum, in which students are selected from our incoming master’s program at American University; and through IRW, where we hire college students year-round from our journalism master’s program at AU and from universities across the country. (IRW interns also work with other reporting and publishing partners.)

APSE awards

The Washington Post took first place in the Associated Press Sports Editors’ annual competition with a revealing project about how the NFL holds back Black coaches. Former IRW intern Clara Ence Morse was part of the team that reported “Black Out.”

Key findings included that Black coaches continue to be underrepresented; if they get the job, they are more likely to be fired; and their paths to the top jobs are narrower. Data fact-checking was done by Hayden Godfrey, Solène Guarinos and Alexandra Rivera from the AU-Washington Post practicum program.

Livingston Award finalists

Former IRW intern Savanna Strott, now a writer at Public Health Watch, and her colleague, David Leffler, are among the finalists for the Livingston Award, which recognizes the best reporting by young journalists. Also in this group of Livingston finalists: former AU graduate student Samantha Hogan, now an investigative reporter at The Maine Monitor. Public Health Watch and IRW are frequent collaborators, and IRW and the Monitor have worked together in the past as well.