There's that age-old question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Well, in six, Medill graduate and former NBN Editor-in-Chief Lisa Gartner won a Pulitzer Prize.
“I’m still in shock right now,” Gartner said. “You don’t do this kind of work for the awards, but it certainly is surreal and gratifying.”
Gartner, who graduated from Medill in 2010, won the prize in the Local Reporting category for her series on the disadvantages Black students face in Pinellas County, Florida.
“Throughout our beat coverage, we were noticing that the Black children in the district were doing so much more poorly than they should be,” she said. “We wanted to take a deeper dive into why that was happening. “
Since the series was published, Gartner said the Pinellas County school system has changed many of its policies and that it is now under federal investigation.
Gartner herself is a product of the Florida school system, hailing from Palm Beach County. It took her and her team approximately a year and a half to write the series for the Tampa Bay Times where she works as an education beat reporter in Pinellas county.
In her time at Northwestern, she said she learned very much both in and out of the classroom.
“You learn so much, especially from other people. I feel like I’ve learned so much about news reporting and news judgment from when I was working at North by Northwestern; so much about story framing and writing from my professors,” she said.
To those who hope to be where Gartner is in six years, she said, “Try to learn as much as possible. Even if it’s not your dream job out of college or your second job, as long as you’re learning and getting better and growing as a reporter, you’re in the right place.”
Most of all, though, she said to never underestimate yourself; in an archive email retrieved from an NBN listserv, Gartner reflected on her first quarter as editor-in-chief: "Because in a world where a smarmy chick living in Bobb whose first article was 'Sexiling 101' can run the site, you'd be surprised at what you, yourself, have in you."
Reporting contributed by Morgan Kinney