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Pulliam Fellow explores plight of vacant factories, how cities are giving them new life


Feb. 20, 2015

Todd Gillman, Pulliam Editorial Fellowship Selection Chairman, (202)- 661-8421, tgillman@dallasnews.com
Jennifer Royer, SPJ Communications Strategist, 317-361-4134, jroyer@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS – "The brick labyrinth along the highway is a post-apocalyptic vision of broken glass, block-letter graffiti and boarded windows. Charred roof beams are fresh evidence of repeated fires, and a crumbling smokestack pushes out from a sea of twisted metal," writes Hugh Bailey in the opening lines of his Connecticut Post series "Ruins Reborn."

Bailey was inspired to write the three-part series by the buildings he describes in the opener – buildings that were once thriving factories where products like organs, guns, shavers and typewriters were made. But today, the city of Bridgeport, Conn., like so many cities across the nation and world, is saddled with huge, blighted buildings and contaminated soil.

"[The buildings are] right on the highway, everyone sees them and they couldn't be a worse advertisement for the city of Bridgeport. I wanted to know how the buildings got that way, what used to be there what else could work in that space," Bailey said.

Bailey, who is now assistant business editor of Hearst Connecticut Media, which includes the Connecticut Post, is the 2013 recipient of the Eugene C. Pulliam Fellowship, a Sigma Delta Chi Foundation program. The Fellowship awards $75,000 to an outstanding editorial writer or columnist to help broaden his or her journalistic horizons and knowledge of the world. The annual award can be used to cover the cost of study, research and/or travel in any field. The Fellowship results in editorials and other writings, including books. Sigma Delta Chi Is the supporting foundation of the Society of Professional Journalists.

The Fellowship allowed Bailey to take a break from his day job and spend eight months researching, traveling, exploring, writing and reporting on a prevalent problem -- and some of the surprising solutions.

"The daily grind that goes with any job can take up so much time that it’s very hard to find time to do the long interviews that I was able to do, to say nothing about the travel," Bailey said.

His reporting took him to Germany, where an old, dilapidated factory has been transformed into a gathering place for locals and a tourist attraction for visitors. It’s a showpiece that has brought life back into the community.

"People in the cities I visited who do this work are very eager to show off what's been done, and even in troubled cities there's a lot of talk about opportunities," Bailey said. "People I met in the Ruhr Valley in Germany, especially, were very generous with their time, and I think they were fascinated that an American journalist wanted to know so much about what they've been doing."

Bailey has been at the Connecticut Post for 11 years. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut and a master’s of urban planning degree from New York University. He lives in Oxford, Conn., with his wife and two sons.

The Society first offered the Fellowship in 1977, when Nina Pulliam provided funding for the program. It honors Mrs. Pulliam’s husband, one of the original members of the Society and publisher of The Indianapolis Star, The Indianapolis News, The Arizona Republic and The Phoenix Gazette.

Farah Stockman, columnist and editorial writer for the Boston Globe, is the 2014 recipient. She is using the fellowship to explore race relations in her city and beyond.

The deadline for entries for the 2015 Pulliam Fellowship is June 22.

Founded in 1961, the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation is a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) public foundation that is dedicated to ensuring that those who carry on the tradition of a free press are prepared for the challenge. Its goal is to support the educational programs of the Society of Professional Journalists and to serve the professional needs of journalists and students pursuing careers in journalism. For more information about the SDX Foundation, please visit www.spj.org/sdx.asp.


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