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Will ‘Failure Factories’ win the Times another Pulitzer Prize?

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Readers of the Tampa Bay Times online and print editions read every day that the paper has won 10 Pulitzer Prizes.

Will that number increase to 11 later today?

Failure Factories,” the Times’ investigation into Pinellas County public schools, has won a slew of prestigious national awards since its publication last summer, but the Pulitzer is the big one, and it undoubtedly will be given strong consideration.

The investigation, researched and reported by Cara FitzpatrickLisa GarterMichael LaForgia and Nathalie Lash, showed how the school district abandoned integration efforts in 2007 and then failed to follow through with promised resources for elementary schools that became predominantly poor and black. The five schools in South St. Petersburg are falling at rates far worse than almost any other schools in Florida.

In the wake of the series’ publication, former U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan flew to St. Petersburg with John King, his successor, to visit Campbell Park. During the visit, Duncan called the plight of the five schools a “man-made” disaster and said the School Board had committed “education malpractice.”

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Education opened a civil rights investigation into whether the Pinellas County School District systematically discriminates against black children.

Among the awards the series has collected include winning the Philip Meyer award (administered through Investigative Reporters and Editors at the Missouri School of Journalism), the National Press Foundation’s Innovation in Journalism Award, the Worth Bingham Prize for Investigative Journalism (administered by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University) and the IRE Award (Investigative Reporters and Editors).

The Times last won a Pulitzer in 2014, when reporters Will Hobson and LaForgia were the winners for Local Reporting for their investigation into the Hillsborough County Homeless Recovery Program.

Editorial writers Tim Nickens and Daniel Ruth were honored in 2013 for their “diligent campaign,” as the Pulitzer judges wrote, which helped reverse the decision by the Pinellas County Commission to eliminate fluoride from the county’s water supply.

The 2016 Pulitzer Prize Winners and Nominated Finalists will be announced Monday, April 18, at 3 p.m. in the World Room, Pulitzer Hall, Columbia University, New York City. This will be the 100th announcement of the Prizes.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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