Pulitzer Winner Donates Money to Teach Rural Journalists

Here’s the feel-good story of the day. Daniel Gilbert, winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, has decided to donate $10,000 of prize money to the organization that taught him investigative reporting tools.

Gilbert won the Pulitzer for a series on natural-gas royalty mismanagement in Southwest Virginia for the Bristol Herald Courier after he took classes at the Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) organization to learn more tools for investigative reporting. To show his appreciation, Gilbert has teamed up with the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky to create the Fund for Rural Computer-Assisted Reporting. It will give rural reporters an opportunity to take similar classes that Gilbert took at IRE.

“Journalism in the public interest should spring from need, not from superior resources,” wrote Gilbert in his final article for the Courier. He’s leaving to join the Wall Street Journal in Houston, covering the oil and gas industry. “Nowhere is this brand of reporting needed more than in rural areas, like Southwest Virginia, that are not covered in any depth by powerhouse media outlets. As the reach of these outlets continues to shrink, the watchdog role in rural communities increasingly falls to the local newspaper, television station and website.”

He might realize he needs that money once Gilbert starts paying for city expenses in Houston, but talk about a noble move.