Carolyn Lumsden of the Hartford Courant receives $75,000 Pulliam Fellowship in Editorial Writing
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INDIANAPOLIS - Carolyn Lumsden, opinion editor at the Hartford Courant, has been chosen for the 2018 Pulliam Editorial Fellowship. Lumsden plans to spend the next year studying the dangerous effects of pyrrhotite, a little-known mineral that has badly weakened home foundations in Connecticut.
As she reported last year in the four-part editorial series “Crumbling Foundations,” pyrrhotite can cause some foundations to deteriorate, affecting as many as 34,000 homes in Connecticut alone. Through the Fellowship, Lumsden intends to expand on that work and investigate the mineral’s damage elsewhere, particularly in Canada.
In April, “Crumbling Foundations” won the Sigma Delta Chi Award for Editorial Writing. The judging for the fellowship was entirely separate, but the fellowship judges were similarly struck by the passion and insight Lumsden’s previous work displayed.
"I read that, and thought, 'Wow,'” said judge Michael Bolden, managing director for editorial operations at the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford University. "Work like this demonstrates the importance of a free press, exploring issues and telling stories that affect the lives of our communities and everyday people in the most basic ways."
As part of her “Crumbling Foundations” series, Lumsden spent months speaking with geologists, engineers, bankers, lawyers, data analysts and homeowners in Connecticut.
She discovered that pyrrhotite damage was a rampant issue in Canada and learned that many homes have been repaired with government aid, whereas American national relief agencies have refused to help those affected by pyrrhotite in Connecticut. Lumsden intends to use her Fellowship to explore how the Canadian government has dealt with the issue, how similar steps can be taken in the U.S. and what states and nations should do to prevent further damage.
“Countless homeowners in the United States, Canada and no doubt many other countries have been victimized. Exposing this problem and exploring solutions is important work. [Lumsden] already has made an important contribution and we’re confident she will use this fellowship to build on that,” said Todd Gillman, Washington bureau chief of The Dallas Morning News and chairman of the Pulliam panel.
Rochelle Riley, the 2017 Pulliam Editorial Fellow, columnist at the Detroit Free Press and a member of this year’s judging panel, said that after reading Lumsden’s series, “I immediately looked at my house” to see if it might be affected, too. “There are very few ideas that are just totally original [and] I just had not thought about that.”
The award will be presented to Lumsden by the incoming Sigma Delta Chi Foundation National President this fall in the Hartford Courant newsroom.
The $75,000 fellowship is awarded annually by the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation. Learn more about the award and see a list of previous winners here.
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