CSU, Chico News

CSU, Chico Alumni Awarded Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting

Date: 04-12-2017

Sean Murphy
Public Affairs

Three California State University, Chico journalism graduates, all former reporters at The Orion student newspaper, have received journalism’s highest honor.

Rick Hurd (BA, Journalism, ’92), Malaika Fraley (BA, Journalism, Political Science, ’99) and Katrina Cameron (BA, Journalism, ’14) contributed to team coverage about a devastating fire that won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news reporting for the East Bay Times. The award was announced on Monday.

The East Bay Times continues to cover the aftermath of the fire, which killed 36 people on Dec. 2, 2016 in a building in Oakland, California known as the “Ghost Ship.” The newspaper announced on its website that its parent news organization, the Bay Area News Group, would contribute the $15,000 in award money to a fund for families of the fire victims.

Cameron said being part of an award-winning team feels “surreal.”

“Ever since I was a news-obsessed kid, my dream was to be a part of a Pulitzer Prize-winning team,” said Cameron, who left the East Bay Times on March 10 and is currently a senior account associate at 10Fold Communications. “Yesterday that dream came true, and I was excited to celebrate the win with my former colleagues,” said Cameron.

Fraley said each member of the East Bay Times’ “close-knit, bare bones staff” that covered the horrific event “would return the [Pulitzer] prize to erase that tragedy. But we are proud of our work in giving a voice to the victims and holding public agencies accountable to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

A full generation separates Hurd and Cameron, a fact not lost on Susan Wiesinger, chair of CSU, Chico’s Department of Journalism and Public Relations.

“That the Pulitzer-winning alumni graduated years apart really speaks to the consistent excellence of students drawn to Chico State’s journalism major,” she said. “Their success is a nice reflection on the program’s strengths, but really says more about these journalists’ commitment to covering their communities better than anyone else.”

Cameron said working for The Orion helped prepare her for breaking news reporting in many ways.

“From stories like the big Greek suspension to having to interview the parents of students who died too young . . . I learned how to report compassionately because Chico has such a tight-knit community, so it felt like everyone was affected by tragedy,” Cameron said. “Working for The Orion also taught me how to work as a team to gather information, report it quickly and report it accurately.”