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Q&A: Gary Cohn, 1998 Pulitzer Prize winner

Gary Cohn, Pulitzer Prize winner at the Baltimore Sun

1998 Pulitzer Prize winner and 2009 Barlett & Steele winner

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PLAY: Cohn speaks with Alec Klein about investigative business journalism.

Age: 57
Home: Santa Monica, CA
What I do: Investigative reporter (currently freelance) and adjunct journalism professor at University of Southern California Annenberg School of Journalism
Hours worked per week: 55

Why I do what I do: I love finding out things people don’t want me to know. I hate injustice. And I like making a difference.

Favorite story I reported: Shipbreakers, a series that Will Englund and I wrote for the Baltimore Sun. The story reported on the dangers to people and the environment when old warships are dismantled and produced reforms.

Gary Cohn was part of a team that won the 2009 Silver Barlett & Steele Award for a project on 'AARP's Stealth Fees.'

Biggest accomplishment: Keeping my passion and enthusiasm for reporting after more than 30 years as an investigative reporter.

Biggest mistake: Not finishing law school. I completed my first year at the University of California at Berkeley, took a leave of absence to take a job as a reporter, and never went back.

Best advice for investigative business journalists: Get out of the office and away from the computer and talk to human sources. Trust your eyes and ears and your instincts.

Best online resource ever: IRE.org, the Investigative Reporters and Editors Web site, has loads of helpful resources and tips.

What reporter’s work do you follow religiously and why: Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker. He’s been doing groundbreaking investigative work for decades.

Who was your mentor: John Carroll, my editor at the Lexington Herald-Leader, Baltimore Sun and Los Angeles Times.

Last book read: ‘The Great Influenza,’ by John M. Barry.

What I do for fun: Hiking, biking, cross-country skiing.

Quote: “Some men see things as they are and say Why. I dream things that never were and say Why not.” – Robert F. Kennedy

About the Author

The Reynolds Center, created through generous grants from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation of Las Vegas and operated by ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, is dedicated to improving the quality of business and economics coverage through training programs for business reporters and editors.

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