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Q&A: Gary Cohn, 1998 Pulitzer Prize winner

Gary Cohn, Pulitzer Prize winner at the Baltimore Sun

GARY COHN
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

In Investigation, Training.

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