Series of articles on wildfires wins Pulitzer Prize

A series of articles about wildland fire won a Pulitzer Prize for authors Bettina Boxall and Julie Cart of the Los Angeles Times. The articles about the current state of wildfire management were extremely well written and exhaustively researched, due in part to their Freedom of Information Act request for cartons of U.S. Forest Service records.

The Pulitzer board, making the award for the Explanatory Reporting category, called the series a “fresh and painstaking exploration into the cost and effectiveness of attempts to combat the growing menace of wildfires.”

The articles have the following titles, and thankfully are still available on the Pulitzer website:

  1. Big Burn: Out of Control
  2. Big Burn: Just for Show?
  3. A politician gets his way
  4. Big Burn: In harm’s way
  5. Big Burn: Small trees, large threat
  6. Big Burn: Beige plague
  7. Big Burn: On their own

Boxall and Cart’s well-researched articles shed light on the heated topic of wildland fires.  They provided actual facts, which can be in stark contrast to most articles about the subject.  A story in the LA Times today described the articles, in part, this way:

The series found that a century after the government declared war on wildfire, fire is gaining the upper hand. Wildland blazes are growing bigger, fiercer and harder to put out. Firefighting costs are rising, too, and much of the money is going to private contractors.

Cart frequently writes about fire.  HERE are the results of a search which lists a couple of hundred of her articles on the topic.

As you probably know, most newspapers around the country are are having financial problems and are laying off members of their staff–many newspapers have closed their doors in the last several months.  I am very concerned about what we will do when there are very few actual reporters left who have the time and backing from their publishers to write lengthy, well-researched articles like the ones that just won a Pulitzer Prize.  Wildfire Today certainly owes a lot to them.

Congratulations to Bettina Boxall, Julie Cart, and the Los Angeles Times.

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