Inquirer Wins Pulitzer For Series On Pentagon

Posted: April 01, 1988

Inquirer reporter Tim Weiner yesterday won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting for a series of articles detailing the explosive growth of secret Pentagon spending.

Weiner, 31, won the award for stories that revealed the United States was spending $35 billion a year in its so-called Black Budget on covert military and intelligence activities. His stories, part of a continuing series, showed how this secret spending had more than tripled under President Reagan.

It was the fourth year in a row that The Inquirer has won a Pulitzer Prize, the most coveted award in journalism. The prize this year marked the 14th won by The Inquirer and its staff, all within the last 13 years.

"I feel like Ed McMahon just sent me $10 million," Weiner said, sipping champagne and accepting congratulations from scores of newsroom colleagues.

Knight-Ridder Newspapers, of which The Inquirer is a part, won six of the 15 Pulitzer Prizes for journalism this year. The Charlotte Observer and the Miami Herald won two Pulitzers apiece and the St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch won one.

Other winners included the Wall Street Journal, which won two awards.

Weiner's stories about the Pentagon's secret cache led Congress last fall to insist in an appropriations amendment that its military-affairs committees be given details of the Black Budget. Among other things, Weiner revealed that the Pentagon was quietly mapping elaborate plans to fund World War IV.

Jonathan Neumann, the Inquirer assistant metropolitan editor who supervised the project, said Weiner had been able to identify classified defense projects by reading volumes of budget documents, line by line, and by interviewing workers at defense plants across the nation.

Weiner joined The Inquirer staff six years ago from the Kansas City Times. There, he was part of a team that shared the 1982 Pulitzer Prize for local reporting for its examination of the collapse of a walkway at the Kansas City Hyatt Regency Hotel that left 114 people dead.

In other categories, the Charlotte Observer won the Pulitzer Prize for public service for its investigation into the misuse of funds by the PTL evangelical television ministry. The Observer also shared a Pulitzer for editorial cartooning with the Atlanta Constitution for work by Doug Marlette. Marlette worked in Charlotte for 15 years before joining the Constitution last year.

The Miami Herald's two Pulitzers went to Dave Barry for commentary and Michel duCille for feature photography. The other Knight-Ridder winner was for feature writing, captured by Jacqui Banaszynski of the St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch for a series about the life and death of an AIDS victim in a farm community.

The Wall Street Journal's two Pulitzers were for explanatory journalism and specialized reporting. The explanatory prize went to Daniel Hertzberg and James B. Stewart for stories involving an investment banker charged with insider trading and the day after the Oct. 19 stock market crash. The specialized prize went to Walt Bogdanich for his reports on faulty testing by American medical laboratories.

Other winners announced yesterday included:

* General news reporting, to the Alabama Journal of Montgomery for an investigation of the state's unusually high infant-mortality rate, and to the Lawrence (Mass.) Eagle-Tribune for stories that showed flaws in the Massachusetts prison furlough system.

* Investigative reporting, to the Chicago Tribune's Dean Baquet, William Gaines and Ann Marie Lipinski, for stories about self-interest and waste plaguing Chicago's City Council.

* International reporting, to Thomas L. Friedman of the New York Times for his coverage of Israel. He won the same award in 1983.

* Editorial writing, to Jane Healy of the Orlando Sentinel for editorials that protested overdevelopment of Florida's Orange County.

* Criticism, to Tom Shales of the Washington Post for his writing on television.

* Spot-news photography, to Scott Shaw of the Odessa (Texas) American for his pictures of little Jessica McClure being rescued from the well into which she had fallen.

Except for the award for public service, which brings with it a gold medal, Pulitzers carry a cash prize of $3,000. The winners are selected by the Pulitzer Prize board and announced by the president of Columbia University, which administers the competition.

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