by Iris Yang
photos by Joy Zhong
Their newspaper was sold and twice changed editors during their investigation, said two Pulitzer winners in an open lecture at Hong Kong Baptist University.
“When we were the middle of our series, the editor of the paper was removed. When we were the middle of writing the series, one of our editors left the paper to take another job. Even our headquarters was sold to generate revenue,” said Susan Snyder, “but the Inquirer’s commitment and our commitment to the project never moved.”
Snyder and Kristen Graham, both education reporters at the Philadelphia Inquirer, won a Pulitzer for series on school violence in Philadelphia.
Their investigation began in December 2009 when 13 Asian students were attacked and beaten by American and African students inside a Philadelphia high school.
“The thing that really struck me is that the students knew terrible things happened, but they said it wasn’t out of the ordinary,” Graham said.
Both reporters have a source list of around 100 victims, they said. They called every single person on the list.
In order to be accurate and reliable, they spent hours fact checking, they said.
Graham added that approaching people was also a challenge in working on the series, as people have different personalities and some of them fear being fired and being put in danger.
“No matter how many things have changed, there will always be government officials, businesses and organizations that needed to be monitored by watch dogs,” Snyder said.