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The Daily Wildcat

 

Pulitzer winners to speak at UA

Lisa Beth Earle/ Arizona Daily Wildcat

Ryan Gabrielson and Paul Giblin return to where it all began at the UA Daily Wildcat. Both are former Wildcat reporters who recently won the Pulitzer Prize and are back at the UA to speak about investigative reporting.
Lisa Beth Earle
Lisa Beth Earle/ Arizona Daily Wildcat Ryan Gabrielson and Paul Giblin return to where it all began at the UA Daily Wildcat. Both are former Wildcat reporters who recently won the Pulitzer Prize and are back at the UA to speak about investigative reporting.

Two Pulitzer Prize winners and former Daily Wildcat reporters are at the UA today to speak about investigative reporting after writing a series of articles exposing the misuse of power in the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.

Paul Giblin and Ryan Gabrielson will be visiting several journalism classes before attending a dinner reception in the early evening, with a lecture to follow. They will be speaking specifically about their particular Pulitzer series as well as investigative reporting in general. Afterward, they will open the lecture up to questions and “”talk about whatever the audience wants to talk about,”” Giblin said.

Giblin and Gabrielson wrote a series of articles in July 2008 about the negative impacts of the Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s illegal immigration policy.

They conducted hundreds of interviews, sifted through public documents and created a database to analyze arrests in the area — a database that not even the sheriff’s office has to this day.

Under the policies at the time, there was “”rather light regard for civil liberties — anyone who was brown and driving around certain roads and at certain times were likely to get pulled over,”” Giblin said. “”There was a shifting of a lot of manpower to illegal immigration, which left many other places not enforced. The response time went up from 911 calls. Serious crimes such as rape went un-investigated.””

After months of researching and analyzing, the five-part series was published in the East Valley Tribune.

After the story, a flurry of events occurred. The two largest repercussions were that Arpaio was re-elected, but is now under investigation by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security — headed by former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano — is reviewing its policy that allows local authorities to detain and arrest suspected illegal immigrants for breaking immigration laws.

“”Locally, (Arpaio) had a lot of support from everyone else in politics, and now he’s having fights every single day with the county board of supervisors,”” Giblin said. “”After the series ran, it allowed politicians to distance themselves from him.””

Arpaio is also under investigation for criminal and civil rights violations, abuse of power, corruption and cracking down on political opponents, Giblin said.

The series won several awards, including the George Polk Award for Justice Reporting and the Pulitzer Prize.

“”I wasn’t expecting to get the Pulitzer,”” Giblin said. “”We just thought we were writing a pretty interesting story. I always dreamed of winning a Pulitzer, but I never expected it.””

“”A week before we won, Paul and I were in New York, and a handicap poll went out and we weren’t on it,”” Gabrielson said. “”Paul was upset we weren’t even in the conversation and I was like, ‘Paul we’re not going to win a Pulitzer. Let’s just enjoy what we have.'””

The investigation hasn’t stopped for Gabrielson, who is a post-graduate fellow at the University of California at Berkeley.

“”I’m doing an investigation on immigration enforcement,”” Gabrielson said. “”Right now I’m expanding it to a national level.””

Despite winning a Pulitzer, both journalists were laid off from the East Valley Tribune — a paper that cut almost half of its staff, Gabrielson said.

With regard to future work, Gabrielson added that he “”would be hesitant to stay at a paper. Non-profit investigative reporting is most likely where I’ll be. But long term, it depends on what happens to journalism.””

Giblin is senior political editor and one of the founders of the Arizona Guardian, an Arizona news Web site.

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