WJ alum wins a Pulitzer Prize


Photo courtesy of Eileen Barroso

A Washington Post three-member team at the ceremony accepting a Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting in the spring of 2018 for stories about Senate candidate Roy Moore (from left: Stephanie McCrummen, Beth Reinhard and Alice Crites.) “My motto is to have low expectations and then you won’t be disappointed but happily surprised if things go your way,” Crites said after being awarded.

While digging deep down in the WJ rosters of graduates, there are many big names. During the long years, a number of now famous and influential people attended WJ and contributed to the prestige of the school. Among many notable alumni like politician Rob Austin or film producer Roy Lee, there appears a Pulitzer Prize winner– Alice Crites from the class of 1981.

A former WJ student who graduated in early 80s, Crites stands behind six Pulitzer Prize winning stories as a researcher for the Washington Post newspaper. A librarian in the Library of Congress at first, she became a researcher five years later and is behind many successful articles. She is known for winning a 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting for stories about Senate candidate Roy Moore that had been written by a three-member team of her and reporters Beth Reinhard and Stephanie McCrummen.

Seeking information about sexual harassment scandals connected with a figure of Moore as a part of MeToo movement, Crites spent hours looking for testimonies, statements, guides and various information about him.

“I think the difficulty in this story was finding women who Moore had approached, getting them to talk and then convincing them to go “on the record” with their name so it is not an anonymous allegation,” Crites said.

She explained the whole complicated process of gaining testimonies from victims showing how the legal process worked and how many steps the proceeding contained.

“Then we had to confirm with friends or family that they had been told these allegations before. We had to check the courts to see that all the victims did not have any history of fraud or false allegations,” Crites said.

From the beginning, there wasn’t much information about Moore’s activity in 2017 and even after some research, a lot of information remained unfound.

“I knew I was in trouble when they told me to look for people that worked in a mall in the mid seventies in Alabama – in a small town in Alabama – all of which made it harder and harder,” husband Peter Crites said.

He emphasized that it was even more complicated due to the fact that it all happened before the digital boom and a lot of things were just on paper.

“That is before everything was digital, so the fact that she found a lot of that stuff was just amazing,” he said.

Afterwards, Crites commented what effect it had and how the stories influenced public opinion.

“The reaction to the stories was amazing. Roy Moore lost the election in a very conservative, Republican state even with the support of President Trump. Moore’s campaign and others tried to prove our stories on him were wrong or sloppy but couldn’t find a single error,” Crites said.