The National Society of Newspaper Columnists is proud to announce that our 2018 Ernie Pyle Lifetime Achievement Award recipient is…Connie Schultz!
Ms. Schultz – the much-admired, widely read 2005 Pulitzer Prize winner for commentary – received the award during the NSNC’s June 7-10, 2018, conference in Cincinnati, Ohio.
When asked for her reaction, Connie said: “The timing of this award is so meaningful to me, as it comes in my tenth year of syndication. For the last six of these years, I have been untethered, belonging to no one news organization. My commitment to the work has never wavered. With this award, you are telling me that it still matters.”
Creators Syndicate distributes the columns of Ms. Schultz, who was formerly based at The Plain Dealer of Cleveland.
Connie added: “Many years ago, a reader familiar with my work sent me a first-edition copy of Ernie Pyle’s book ‘Brave Men’ and Lee G. Miller’s biography ‘The Story of Ernie Pyle.’ The reader, who identified himself as an elderly man, asked that I never stop writing about the ‘regular men and women who make up this great country.’
“Both books continue to hold a place of honor in my personal library, but since learning of this award, they feel like whispers from the grave of a great journalist who died before I was born. Ernie Pyle knew there is no such thing as an ordinary person, and it has been my privilege to illustrate that singular truth for nearly forty years, one story at a time. I hope to do so as long as I draw a breath.”
When Ms. Schultz won the Pulitzer in 2005, the judges praised her columns for providing “a voice for the underdog and the underprivileged.” The day of that win was when I first spoke with Connie, and I – like many others – was highly impressed not only with her writing but with her friendliness.
Two years earlier, Ms. Schultz was a Pulitzer finalist in feature writing for her series “The Burden of Innocence,” which chronicled the ordeal of Michael Green, who was imprisoned for 13 years for a rape he did not commit. The week after the series ran, the real rapist turned himself in after reading Connie’s stories.
In addition to writing her syndicated column, Ms. Schultz is Professional in Residence at Kent State University’s journalism school.
Her work has also appeared in publications such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, Politico, Parade, The Atlantic, ESPN The Magazine, and Democracy Journal. And she is the author of “Life Happens – And Other Unavoidable Truths,” a collection of essays; plus “…and His Lovely Wife,” a memoir about her husband Sherrod Brown’s successful 2006 race for the U.S. Senate. Her first novel, “Erietown,” about a working-class family in small-town Ohio, will be published by Random House.
Ms. Schultz – a keynote speaker at the 2014 NSNC conference in Washington, DC – has won numerous other prizes besides the Pulitzer and upcoming Pyle honor. They include the Scripps Howard National Journalism Award for Commentary, the National Headliner Award for Commentary, the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Social Justice Reporting, the Batten Medal (honoring “a body of journalistic work that reflects compassion, courage, humanity, and a deep concern for the underdog”), and journalism awards from Harvard and Columbia universities. She has received seven honorary degrees, and twice served as a Pulitzer juror.
Also, Connie is a fellow with the Vietnam Reporting Project. Her 2011 series “Unfinished Business” – which explored the long-term impact of Agent Orange in the U.S. and Vietnam – won the Associated Press Managing Editors Journalism Excellence Award in International Perspective.
Ms. Schultz and her husband have four grown children and five grandchildren. They live in Cleveland with their rescue dog Franklin.
Previous winners of the 1993-launched Pyle prize have included Dave Barry, David Broder, Art Buchwald, Gail Collins, Roger Ebert, Ellen Goodman, Molly Ivins, Steve Lopez, Judith “Miss Manners” Martin, Mary McGrory, Clarence Page, Leonard Pitts Jr., and Andy Rooney, among others.
Dave Astor writes the weekly “Montclairvoyant” topical-humor column for Baristanet.com, blogs weekly at DaveAstorOnLiterature.com, and is the author of the 2017 book “Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Authors and the Greatest Novels of All Time: The Book Lover’s Guide to Literary Trivia.”