Magazine article The Masthead

Pulitzer Win Sends Message

Magazine article The Masthead

Pulitzer Win Sends Message

Article excerpt

Sometimes, you strike a nerve." So begins one of Mark Mahoney's editorials on freedom of information and open government--editorials that won him this year's Pulitzer Prize.

Writing "sunshine" editorials posed a challenge: 3-hey risk sounding preachy and self-serving, landing on readers with what Mark himself called "a resounding thud." Mark's approach, featuring hard-hitting editorials and a sizzling blog, broke the mold. His commentary from the citizen's point of view--down to earth, specific, convincing, passionate--caught the Pulitzer jurors' attention.

His is the first Pulitzer for The Post-Star (circulation 34,000) in Glens Falls, a small city in the foothills of New York's Adirondack Mountains. "The best response has been from the town--people are so excited about this," Mark said over the phone. "It's about small-town papers beating the big guys, showing what we can do. The whole community is excited."

Mark, 45, joined the paper as a reporter in 1988, became an editor and migrated to the editorial page. He's a friendly bear of a man with an easy laugh and a way of casting a wary eye on the unfolding scene. He runs a one-man shop with the active support of editor Ken Tingley, citizen representative Nancy Fitzpatrick, and publisher Rick Emanuel.

In his Pulitzer portfolio, Mark sounded the alarm against a gag order on members of the Warrensburg Board of Education, and "confidentiality agreements" that seal information about tax reassessments from public view. After his editorials challenged secrecy over contract terms for teachers in Fort Edward, the state legislature in Albany took up a measure that would require public access to negotiated labor agreements prior to board approval.

Mark's win sends some powerful messages. "This is for all the small newspapers out there that never got to play in the game," says editor Tingley, who originally persuaded a reluctant Mark to go for the Pulitzer. …

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