April 6, 2004

Contact: Todd Cohen, University Relations, (785) 864-8858.

KU graduate wins Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting

LAWRENCE -- A University of Kansas graduate won a prestigious Pulitzer Prize yesterday for explanatory reporting.

Kevin Helliker, a Kansas City, Kan., native who earned a bachelor's degree in English literature from KU in 1982, won the award along with fellow Wall Street Journal reporter Thomas M. Burton for their "groundbreaking" examination of aneurysms.

"Kevin came to the journalism school with a creative writing background and a strong desire to learn marketable journalism skills that would lead to a good job," said Ted Frederickson, professor of journalism at KU. "By the end of my beginning reporting class, it was clear that Kevin would have his choice of numerous good job offers. Ironically, his first [University Daily] Kansan story was about Lawrence's underground artists -- people who considered themselves musicians, novelists and sculptors but who had to work day jobs to pay the rent. In a sense, he was one of them -- a creative writer who was looking for a way that his writing would lead to a good job.

"To his credit, his Pulitzer-winning series on aneurysms shows that he brought his creative writing skills with him to his new profession," Frederickson said.

The prize is worth $10,000. The awards are given by Columbia University on the recommendation of the 18-member Pulitzer board, which considers nominations from jurors in each category. A complete list of Pulitzer winners is online at www.pulitzer.org.

Helliker, who is the Journal's Chicago bureau chief, began his journalism career in the Journal's Houston bureau as a reporter in 1982. He later joined the Kansas City Times and then became assistant editor at Corporate Report Kansas City magazine. In 1986, he went to Arizona Trend magazine as a writer and later managing editor.

In 1989, Helliker did a yearlong writing fellowship at Duke University before rejoining the Journal, working as a reporter in Dallas, New York and London. He was named Dallas bureau chief in May 1994 and Chicago bureau chief in May 1996.

Other KU graduates who have won Pulitzer Prizes include:

 • Pat Gaston, 1981 graduate, and Mary Carter, 1986 graduate, were editors on the Dallas Morning News team that won in 1994 for international reporting for a series on violence against women in Africa.

 • Jeff Taylor, 1990 graduate, won in 1992 for a series on the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the Kansas City Star. Sharing the award were Star editor Mark Zieman, 1984 graduate, and illustrator David Eames, 1989 graduate.

 • Wall Street Journal Washington Bureau Chief Jerry Seib, 1978 graduate, won in 2002 as part of the Journal team that won for Sept. 11, 2001, coverage.

 • Alvin Scott McCoy, a 1925 graduate, won in 1954 for a series of exclusive stories for the Kansas City Star that led to the resignation under fire of C. Wesley Roberts as Republican national chairman.

 • And of course William Allen White, class of 1890 and after whom KU's journalism school is named, won in 1923 for editorial writing.

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