Alumni named Pulitzer finalists

April 30, 2013

By Frank Radosevich II

Two alumni from the Slane College of Communications and Fine Arts were named 2013 finalists for the prestigious Pulitzer Prize awards.

Sacramento Bee photographer Renée C. Byer ’80, a Pulitzer Prize winner in 2007, was honored in the feature photography award for her images of a grandfather raising three grandchildren after the murder of his daughter and his wife’s death due to cancer.

In the Investigative Reporting category, Michael Hawthorne ’88, an environmental reporter at the Chicago Tribune, was nominated with two other reporters for their coverage of toxic fire retardants used in household furniture and crib mattresses.

Byer, who graduated with a degree from the Department of Art in photography, won her feature photography prize in 2007 for her photo series, “A Mother’s Journey,” chronicling a mother and her young son as he battled cancer. The black-and-white photographs were later displayed at Bradley’s Hartmann Center. She was a photographer for the Peoria Journal Star until 1988, and went on to work at newspapers in New York, Oregon, and Seattle.

Hawthorne, who graduated with a degree in Communication/Journalism, began his reporting career at The News-Journal of Daytona Beach, Fla., after receiving his master's in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois Springfield. He has since worked as a reporter for newspapers in Ohio and Illinois.

The prize’s nominating juries for each category in the competition select finalists. The Pulitzer Prize Board generally chooses the winner from the three nominated finalists in each category.