Inspirational Photography

Nine alumni claim 13 Pulitzer Prizes in photojournalism

Published Jul. 5, 2018

An RIT photojournalism alumnus was part of a Pulitzer Prize-winning team announced in April. David Wallace ’01 is now one of nine RIT alumni who have won a combined 13 Pulitzer Prizes.

Wallace, a photographer with The Arizona Republic, helped the newspaper staff and the USA TODAY NETWORK win the prize for explanatory reporting for a project on President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall.

The Wall: Unknown stories, Unintended Consequences” included more than a dozen stories and documentary videos, a podcast series and a digital map with video of every foot of the 2,000-mile border showing existing fencing.

Wallace, who has been a staff photographer for The Arizona Republic since 2006, was one of a few videographers who worked on the 15 documentary videos that were part of the project. He spent three-and-a-half months in 2017 with a reporter and photographer in the field talking to the people most affected by the border. That was followed by another three months of editing “around the clock.”

Dan Loh's photo of Monica Lewinsky and her attorney

Nick Oza/The Arizona Republic via USA TODAY NETWORK

Selene Ramirez, center, looks up crying while she hugs her family members praying at her brother Carlos Martinez’s shrine in Cananea, Sonora, Mexico where Carlos was born. Carlos Martinez died several months earlier in the desert of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument near Ajo, Ariz., while trying to illegally cross from Mexico into the United States. RIT alumnus David Wallace shot and edited a documentary about migrants dying in the desert, which was part of the Pulitzer win.

“The stuff I worked on focused on trying to put a human face on the border, whether it was people who live on the border or people whose lives are impacted by the border,” he said, adding that it was the only time in his career in which he has worked on only one project.

“It was really something special and I knew it while I was working on it. I don’t think we knew we would win a Pulitzer, but the way we were working on it was really unique.”

At The Arizona Republic, Wallace has also covered wildfires, the 2011 Tucson shooting that wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Mormon fundamentalism in Arizona, environmental issues on the Navajo Nation, meth addiction, inner-city education, mental health and Super Bowls XLII and XLIX. He shoots both still photography and videos.

Before The Arizona Republic, he worked at newspapers in Michigan, Florida and Iowa.

Wallace said he still uses what he learned at RIT, especially the importance of telling the human side of the story and bringing dignity to your subjects.

“I learned visual journalism is not something that comes easy,” he said. “You have to go out there and get it.”

Other RIT Pulitzer winners

Here is more on the other RIT graduates who have won Pulitzer Prizes:

William Snyder's photo of U.S. diver Mary Ellen Clark

William Snyder ’81, The Dallas Morning News

William Snyder ’81, winner of Pulitzer Prizes in 1989, 1991, 1993 and 2006 while working for The Dallas Morning News. Snyder was honored in 1989 in the Explanatory Journalism category. Snyder was part of a three-person team that reported how the National Transportation Safety Board conducts air-crash investigations following a crash in 1986. In 1991, Snyder won a Pulitzer in the Feature Photography category for his images of ill and orphaned children living in deplorable conditions in Romania. Snyder and Ken Geiger ’11 won in the Spot News category in 1993 for their images of the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. Under Snyder’s leadership as director of photography at The Dallas Morning News, the staff earned a Pulitzer in 2006 in the Breaking News Photography category for its coverage of Hurricane Katrina.

Dan Loh's photo of Monica Lewinsky and her attorney

Dan Loh ’95, The Associated Press

Robert Bukaty ’82 and Dan Loh ’95, winners of Pulitzer Prize in 1999 while working for The Associated Press. Bukaty and Loh were part of the AP photography staff honored in the Feature Photography category for their series of images of the key players and events surrounding President Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky and the impeachment hearings.

Paul Benoit ’76, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1979 in the Feature Photography category while working for Boston Herald-American. Benoit and members of the paper’s photography staff won for their coverage of the blizzard of 1978.

Stan Grossfeld ’73, winner of two Pulitzer Prizes in 1984 and 1985 while working for The Boston Globe. Grossfeld won in 1984 in the Spot News category for his series of photographs revealing the effects of war on the people of Lebanon. In 1985, he earned a Pulitzer in the Feature Photography category for a portfolio of images of the famine in Ethiopia and of illegal aliens on the Mexican border. Grossfeld was also among the finalists for Pulitzers in 1984, 1994 and 1996.

Anthony Suau ’78, winner of Pulitzer Prize in 1984 for Feature Photography while at The Denver Post, for a portfolio of images depicting the tragic effects of starvation in Ethiopia and for a single photograph of a woman at her husband’s gravesite on Memorial Day.

One of David Carson's Ferguson photo

David Carson ’94, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

David Carson ’94, part of the photography staff of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which won a Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography in 2015. The award was for the newspaper’s coverage of the events in Ferguson, Mo., following the police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, by a white police officer.