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Monday, April 19, 2004
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Two alums win Pulitzer Prize

By Kelly Durso

Former Ohio University students Joe Mahr and Carolyn Cole were honored with Pulitzer Prizes for their accomplishments in journalism. Mahr received the award for his investigative journalism on his work for the Toledo Blade's series "Buried Secrets, Brutal Truths." Cole won in the feature photography category for her series "Monrovia Under Siege" in the Los Angeles Times.

Mahr, along with Michael Sallah and Mitch Weiss, investigated the actions of Tiger Force. In the Vietnam War, the army unit committed 20 war crimes against unarmed civilians.

Cole's pictures captured the street fighting in Liberia's capital - often by children - and the effects of the war, especially on the innocent.

For Mahr, a graduate of both E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and the Honors Tutorial College, the most important thing was to tell both sides of the story. This meant interviewing former members of Tiger Force and relatives of the victims.

Marilyn Greenwald, professor of journalism, recognized his name when she saw it online but it wasn't until she received an e-mail from Ohio University notifying her that a former student had won the Pulitzer Prize that she put two and two together.

She remembers him as a sophisticated student and a nice, soft-spoken guy. He was managing editor of The Post during a year when the newspaper did a lot of daring stories about the administration.

"He was one of the top editors during a good year for The Post," Greenwald says.

Greenwald says it is always great when a graduate is honored with an award, especially when it's a Pulitzer in the category of investigative journalism.

"It's always great when a graduate wins the Pulitzer Prize especially in that category because The New York Times or Washington Post usually wins it," Greenwald says. "It speaks highly of the school when a graduate wins a Pulitzer."

Mahr joined the investigation five months into the eight-month investigation, helping to complete the series for publication last October. Mahr joined the Toledo Blade in 2000 becoming a general assignment/special projects reporter. He has also won awards for his coverage of the 2001 Toledo mayoral race and northwest Ohio's decades-long economic slide.

Cole completed work for her master's degree through the University's School of Visual Communications during the mid-1980s. In addition to the Pulitzer, Cole was named Newspaper Photographer of the Year in the University of Missouri's Pictures of the Year International competition, as well as the National Press Photographers Association's competition. She has been a staff photographer with the L.A. Times since 1994.

Kelly Durso is a student writer with University Communications and Marketing.

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