UNC Hussman alumni part of Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post work on U.S. Capitol assault

By Beth Hatcher

UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media graduates are part of The Washington Post team awarded the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for work on the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on Washington.

Whitney Shefte ’07, Madison Walls ’18, Peter Wallsten ’94, Ray Whitehouse ’16 (M.A.), Cleve Wootson ’05 and Kevin Uhrmacher ’14 contributed to the reporting, videography, editing, design and production that earned the prestigious award given for “a distinguished example of meritorious public service by a newspaper, magazine or news site through the use of its journalistic resources, including the use of stories, editorials, cartoons, photographs, graphics, videos, databases, multimedia or interactive presentations or other visual material, a gold medal.”

Pictured at right, left to right, top row: Shefte, Whitehouse and Walls, bottom row: Wootson, Uhrmacher and Wallsten.

The Pulitzer Board described the project as a “compellingly told and vividly presented account of the assault on Washington on January 6, 2021, providing the public with a thorough and unflinching understanding of one of the nation's darkest days.”

Shefte helped produce video for the winning work; Walls worked on design; Wallsten on editing; Whitehouse contributed videography; Wootson was a reporter; and Uhrmacher acted as design editor.

The winning alumni reflected on how lessons learned at Hussman prepared them for professional success.

“So much of what I learned at the J-school and from working at The Daily Tar Heel helped lay the foundation for my journalism career,” Shefte said. “Years later, I reflect on those experiences and how they helped me get where I am today.”

For Walls, collaborative learning experiences at Hussman have carried through into her current career.

“UNC taught me how collaboration leads to an immersive storytelling experience by combining everyone's strengths from text, photo, video and audio into a deeply reported story,” Walls said. “The stories we work on at The Post rely on that same team mentality to produce vivid and comprehensive coverage of the news.”

Whitehouse pointed to Hussman visual communication faculty members, Professor Pat Davison and Associate Professor Chad Heartwood, as continuing inspirations.

“Video played a pivotal role in showing what happened on Jan. 6, and much of what I learned about video storytelling came from my professors at UNC, including Pat Davison and Chad [Heartwood],” Whitehouse said.

Hussman Pulitzer history

UNC Hussman has a proud Pulitzer Prize history, beginning with 1943 alumnus Horace Carter’s 1953 Pulitzer for Meritorious Public Service for his campaign against the Ku Klux Klan as the owner and operator of the Tabor City Tribune. The Tribune and The News-Reporter In Whiteville, N.C. — which also won a Pulitzer for the campaign — became the first non-daily newspapers to win that prize. The lobby of Carroll Hall displays Carter’s Pulitzer, which he donated in 1990, in a museum-quality installation to inspire future generations.

UNC Hussman alumni and faculty members have continued the tradition, earning more than 25 Pulitzers since Carter’s 1953 award.