A report commissioned by the New York Times says the 1932 Pulitzer Prize awarded to the paper’s Walter Duranty should be rescinded.
The report, written by Columbia University history professor Mark von Hagen, marks a change in the Times’ position on the controversial award, reports the New York Sun.
In June, the paper responded to a study by a Pulitzer subcommittee into the award by saying, “The Times has not seen merit in trying to undo history.”
Duranty’s writing about Stalin and the U.S.S.R. has received widespread condemnation for his covering up the Ukrainian famine of 1932-33 and other Soviet atrocities. His Pulitzer actually was awarded for writing he did in 1931, the Sun notes.
Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. reportedly read the new report and then forwarded it to the Pulitzer board with a recommendation.
The study of the Duranty Pulitzer, the Sun reports, was commissioned less than a month after the resignation of the Times’ executive editor, Howell Raines, over the Jayson Blair fraud scandal.
“I was really kind of disappointed having to read [Duranty’s] stuff, and know that the New York Times would publish this guy for so long,” von Hagen told the Sun.
Von Hagen’s report said Duranty’s 1931 pieces were “very effective renditions of the Stalinist leadership’s style of self-understanding of their murderous and progressive project.”
He said Duranty’s reporting was “neither unique among reporters” nor “particularly unusual, let alone profound,” according to the Sun, saying the reporter “ignored the history of 20th century Russia.”
The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America organized a postcard campaign urging the Pulitzer organization to rescind Duranty’s award. The group’s efforts resulted in the subcommittee probe.
Concluded von Hagen: “I wish they didn’t give Duranty the prize in the first place. But I think it should be rescinded now, for the honor of the New York Times, if for nothing else.”
Related special offer: