CHICO — The Chico Enterprise-Record was honored on Monday as a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize for the first time in the newspaper’s history.
The staff of the Enterprise-Record, in collaboration with the Bay Area News Group, was a finalist in the breaking news category for its coverage of the devastating Camp Fire. The fire is now considered the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California state history.
It took 85 lives and burned over 18,000 buildings in more than 150,000 acres. The daily newspaper was honored “for committed coverage of an epic California wildfire” as described in the Pulitzer Prizes announcement.
There were two finalists in the category — the other being the South Florida Sun Sentinel for its coverage of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. The winner of the Pulitzer Prize in breaking news reporting in 2019 was the staff of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for its reporting on the massacre at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue.
When the Camp Fire broke out on Nov. 8, the newsroom was overseen by David Little, who served as editor of the Enterprise-Record for 19 years. Mike Wolcott took over as editor on the heels of the Camp Fire at the start of 2019.
“I can’t think of a more appropriate exclamation point for David Little’s career as editor than this,” Wolcott said. “It was exciting beyond belief to find out the E-R was selected as a finalist. I know our staff is ready and eager to maintain this new high standard in the years to come.”
The Enterprise-Record and staff is small but mighty. There were 10 full-time newsroom employees and four part-time journalists to cover the worst wildfire in state history. Thankfully, there were reinforcements.
Former Enterprise-Record reporters Robin Epley and Almendra Carpizo drove several hours to Chico to volunteer their time and skills. Then-A&E editor Carin Dorghalli was supposed to have her last day that week but didn’t. Reporter Steve Schoonover was supposed to retire, but that was put on hold too.
The morning the fire started, Little shared a now iconic photo of the fire from the roof of the Enterprise-Record building and soon got a call from editors at the Bay Area News Group, which consists of the East Bay Times and the San Jose Mercury News. They wanted more pictures.
The massive plume from the Camp Fire, burning in the Feather River Canyon and near Paradise, wafts over the Sacramento Valley as seen from Chico on the morning of Nov. 8, 2018. (David Little — Enterprise-Record)
Little had to tell them that would be hard to do, because the newspaper’s sole photographer was on leave.
“They just said, ‘What do you need?’” Little said Monday. “I said, ‘everything, pretty much.’ ”
And so, four photographers/videographers and at least two reporters came up and became embedded in the Enterprise-Record newsroom from day one, Little said. Bay Area News Group staff stayed with Enterprise-Record staff, until the news organization rented a more permanent place in Chico for the visiting journalists.
“It felt like a full newsroom for …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Nation, World