[bas relief by Oleh Lesiuk]
18th December 2003
A Flippant 'Cheers' Valediction Reply from Mr Arthur Bovino of the New York Times Public Office.
From: Public [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: 18 December 2003 19:08
To: Nigel Linsan Colley
Subject: Re: The Denigration of Gareth Jones by Walter Duranty in NYT
Dear Mr. Colley,
Here is a copy of the recent article published by The Times on the Pulitzer Board's decision not to retract the award.
The Times has no plans to return the Pulitzer for Duranty's reporting.
Office of the Public Editor
November 22, 2003, Saturday Late Edition - Final
Section A Page 13 Column 5 Desk: National Desk Length: 689 words
Pulitzer Board Won't Void '32 Award to Times Writer
By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK
The board that administers the Pulitzer Prizes said yesterday that it had decided not to revoke the prize awarded in 1932 to Walter Duranty of The New York Times for a series of articles about the Soviet Union that were later discredited as too credulous of Soviet propaganda.
Mr. Duranty's Pulitzer Prize, which was awarded for a series of 13 articles written in 1931, has become the subject of protests by Ukrainians and other groups angry over his failure to report the vast famine of 1932-33 in the Soviet Union.
The Pulitzer Prize Board's statement acknowledged that Mr. Duranty's prizewinning articles had fallen far short of ''today's standards for foreign reporting.'' But the board concluded after months of debate that there was ''no clear and convincing evidence of deliberate deception'' by Mr. Duranty in the articles that won the prize.
''Revoking a prize 71 years after it was awarded under different circumstances, when all principals are dead and unable to respond, would be a momentous step and therefore would have to rise to that threshold,'' the statement added.
Some historians have contended that Mr. Duranty helped hide the existence of the famine, which resulted in the death of several million Ukrainians. But the board said it had focused its attention on the 1931 articles for which he won the prize, rather than on his whole career or his failure to report on the later famine.
''A Pulitzer Prize for reporting is awarded not for the author's body of work or for the author's character,'' the statement said, ''but for the specific pieces entered in the competition.''
In a coda addressing Mr. Duranty's critics, the board said, ''The famine of 1932-1933 was horrific and has not received the international attention it deserves.''
''The board,'' the statement added, ''extends its sympathy to Ukrainians and others in the United States and throughout the world who still mourn the suffering and deaths brought on by Josef Stalin.''
Arthur Sulzberger Jr., publisher of The Times, said in a statement: ''We respect and commend the Pulitzer board for its decision on this complex and sensitive issue. All of us at The Times are fully aware of the many defects in Walter Duranty's journalism, as we have and will continue to acknowledge. We regret his lapses, and we join the Pulitzer board in extending sympathy to those who suffered as a result of the 1932-33 Ukrainian famine.''
The expressions of sympathy, however, did not satisfy some critics of Mr. Duranty's work. Tamara Gallo Olexy, director of the national office in New York for the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, said the roots of the famine could be traced to a period before 1932.
''Unfortunately you can't say that the famine in the Ukraine started exactly on Jan. 1, 1932,'' she said in a telephone interview. ''It started earlier than that, in 1929, when the whole collectivization started.''
Calling the board's decision ''outrageous,'' Ms. Olexy said her organization would continue to campaign for the revoking of the prize. ''This is not the end,'' she said. ''We are not going to stop.''
The Pulitzer Prize Board considered rescinding Mr. Duranty's prize about a decade ago but decided against doing so. This July, the board sent a letter to The Times explaining that it had reopened the question because of ''a new round of demands'' for revocation.
In response to inquiries from the Pulitzer board, The Times hired Mark von Hagen, a Columbia University history professor who studies the former Soviet Union, to examine Mr. Duranty's prizewinning articles. In an eight-page report to The Times, Professor von Hagen said their ''lack of balance and uncritical acceptance of the Soviet self-justification for its cruel and wasteful regime'' had misrepresented history and done a disservice to the paper's readers.
Mr. Sulzberger, in a cover letter submitting the historian's report to the board, acknowledged that Mr. Duranty's work had been ''slovenly,'' but he argued that revoking the prize might evoke the ''Stalinist practice to airbrush purged figures out of official records and histories.'' He also wrote that ''the board would be setting a precedent for revisiting its judgments over many decades.''
Correction: November 25, 2003, Tuesday
An article on Saturday about a decision by the Pulitzer Prize Board against revoking the 1932 award to Walter Duranty of The New York Times for articles about the Soviet Union, which were later discredited, referred imprecisely to the scope of a report commissioned by The Times. The paper engaged Prof. Mark von Hagen of Columbia to assess Duranty's work about the Soviet Union in 1931, not just the 13 articles that were entered in the prize competition.
At 02:13 PM 12/10/2003 +0000, you wrote:
FYI Yesterday, formal hard copies of the attached word document were sent via airmail by Dr Margaret Siriol Colley to all recipients listed within her letter. Therefore please expect to receive one of these airmails in due course.
However, this email attachment was sent in addition to the airmails, to help ensure that regardless of any seasonal postal delays, all recipients have prompt access to its contents.
Nigel Linsan Colley
Original Research, Content & Site Design by Nigel Linsan Colley. Copyright © 2001-11 All Rights Reserved Original document transcriptions by M.S. Colley.Click here for Legal Notices. For all further details email: Nigel Colley or Tel: (+44) 07796 303 8888