Journalism School Alumna Part Of Pulitzer-Prize Winning Staff


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An alumna of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism was notified on Monday that she had aided her newspaper in receiving the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

Alexandra Berzon, a North Berkeley native who graduated from the journalism school in 2006, was among the last of the Las Vegas Sun's news staff to learn that the paper had been recognized for its investigative reporting.

The paper investigated the high death rate of construction workers on the Las Vegas strip amid inadequate regulations and safety conditions. Berzon was singled out by the Pulitzer Prize jury for her reporting, which has led to congressional hearings and worker-safety reforms.

Neil Brown, executive editor of the St. Petersburg Times and chair of the jury that chose the finalists for the award, said Berzon's work was among the best of the more than 65 entries he reviewed.

"Any time you take on establishments like unions and casinos it's controversial," he said. "But her work was certainly very well-written, well-argued and very clear. She identified a problemwhere construction workers were dying, and when she and her newspaperbrought scrutiny to that problem-people stopped dying."

Berzon, who began work at the paper last year, said her experiences at UC Berkeley's journalism school helped her receive the prize.

"They prepared me very well. I had so many professors who were invested in not just me but all the students," she said. "There were many fascinating speakers and to work with people who are top of the field is a huge privilege."

Berzon added that after winning the award she received notes from former professors, past classmates and even current students she did not know.

Lowell Bergman, a professor at the journalism school who won the same prize in 2004, said Berzon was a top student in a seminar that he taught.

"The journalism school is very proud. It's amazing the award was given to someone that young and entrepreneurial," he said.

Berzon's deputy managing editor, Drex Heikes, also noted that Berzon's work had been pivotal in the investigation which led to the award.

"The award goes to the entire newspaper, but she was absolutely the star of the show," he said.


Contact Shannon Lee at [email protected]

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