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Poynter to host Pulitzer Prize centennial celebration

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The Poynter Institute has been selected to host a two-day event honoring 100 years of Pulitzer Prizes. The downtown St. Pete continuing education resource for journalists and other writers was chosen by the Pulitzer Prize Board to host the events on Thursday, March 31, 2016, and April 1, 2016.

The seminar is aimed at highlighting the historical achievement of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists covering topics like civil rights, social equality and democracy.

“Like the Pulitzer Prizes, the Poynter Institute is dedicated to the highest standards of journalism, and we welcome this partnership,” said Paul Tash, chairman of the Poynter Institute and former chairman of the Pulitzer Prizes, according to a post on the group’s website. “During the struggle for civil rights, brave writers and photographers revealed the ugly brutality of racial discrimination, earning journalism’s greatest honor. But more important, their work nudged public officials and sentiment toward the American promise of equal opportunity. The program at Poynter next year will celebrate not only the centennial of the Pulitzers, but the power of great journalism to make a difference in democracy.”

Dr. Roy Peter Clark, Poynter’s vice president and senior scholar, will lead the first part of the celebration entitled, “The Voices of Social Justice and Equality.”

“The Pulitzer Prizes and The Poynter Institute share the mission of fostering journalistic excellence that improves our democracy. Poynter is honored to celebrate the Centennial of the Pulitzer Prizes and the seminal work of its recipients, who courageously used the power of their words and images to make America a more just society,” said Poynter president Tim Franklin. “As we’ve learned from recent events, the struggle for civil rights and equality is not over. So at the same time we honor the path-breaking work of the last century, we will seize this opportunity to explore a discussion about journalism’s role in addressing inequality in the next century.”

The first and main event will be at the Palladium Theater, where the work of civil rights-era Pulitzer Prize winners will be showcased using music, dance, photography and fine arts.

Prominent writers, entertainers and elected officials are expected to travel to St. Pete for the event.

“This is a momentous occasion for journalism and for the Sunshine City,” said Mayor Rick Kriseman. “This event provides us with an opportunity to hear remarkable stories from an era that still shapes our policy and culture today. I think it is fitting that the Poynter Institute is serving as host. On behalf of our citizens, I welcome all participants to the City of St. Petersburg.”

The second event will take place at the Poynter Institute across the street from USF St. Pete. Poynter teachers and some invited experts will lead a series of workshops.

According to the Poynter Institute, those classes are aimed at enlightening and inspiring “the next generation of Pulitzer winners.”

The mayor’s office says the event will “enrich culture and foster a deeper understanding of social justice issues for residents.

“I look forward to hearing from award-winning journalists who recorded and reported those voices during a critical time in our nation’s history,” said St. Pete Deputy Mayor Dr. Kanika Tomalin. “Their work is marked by journalistic, moral, spiritual and even physical courage, and the stories they tell are worth remembering as the struggle for civil rights and equality continues. I thank the Poynter Institute for their role in ensuring that this is an event worth remembering.”

Three other events marking the Pulitzer Prize’s centennial will be hosted by Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab, the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and the Dallas Morning News.

All St. Pete events are open to the public.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email

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