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  • Kevin Painchaud

Winning the Pulitzer


WRITTEN BY KEVIN PAINCHAUD


On Monday May 6, all of us from Lookout gathered on a Zoom call. We had no idea what was going on, only that Tamsin, our managing editor, had told us we had a mandatory meeting at 10 a.m. She did mention the day before that it was good news, but no one had any clue what this was about|. 


Once everyone had logged in, Tamsin looked through her webcam, and blurted out, “We won the Pulitzer!”   Silence. Dead silence. No one comprehended what she said. I mean, we all heard her, but we didn’t understand what she was talking about. 


Tamsin finally broke the silence, “We won the Pulitzer Prize for our coverage of the storms from last year!” 


There was a brief pause, then gasps of surprise, a few “what?” and, for me, a steady flow of tears. As we all let those words sink in, the emotions grew. Everyone was beyond ecstatic. For me, the years of insecurities and second-guessing my passion for photojournalism as a career suddenly brought validity to what I loved to do more than anything, to tell stories through my photos.


We WON THE PULITZER PRIZE!!! How? What? None of us understood how our tiny newsroom of 10 people could win the most sought after prize in all of journalism. Not only that, but who had the audacity to even think that we could be even in the same universe as those newsrooms who take home the prize year after year? I mean, it's newsrooms with hundreds of people, serving large markets like New York, Los Angeles or Chicago, that win the Pulitzer. Not Santa Cruz. For us to win a Pulitzer is like a community theater actor winning the Academy Award. It just doesn’t even compute.


It’s been a little over two weeks now and being considered a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist still doesn’t feel right. All of us in the newsroom look at each other and shake our heads thinking about the fact that we won the PULITZER PRIZE! For the rest of our lives, the 10 of us who were in the newsroom at the beginning of 2023 will forever have the title of  “A Pulitzer Prize winning Journalist!”  Crazy!


I think about this prize on a daily basis. I believe that ​​winning this prize came down to 5 things:


1.  Our boss Ken Doctor had the idea and the guts to dream of Lookout and make it happen. His life's career of being in the news world and seeing the demise of print journalism made him have the belief that there is a better way. There is a way to put together a team of dedicated journalists and create a product that a community like Santa Cruz will support. It sure has not been an easy journey, but it's working.


2. Tamsin, our managing editor. What can I say about Tamsin? She’s our general. She is our guiding light. Tamsin leads by example, working crazy hours and rarely complaining. It's got to be that Canadian blood in her that keeps the newsroom pumping.  And most importantly, it’s Tamsin that truly believes in each and every one of us and believes in the work that we produce.


3. Our newsroom. It’s amazing looking around the room and being surrounded by people who you respect, trust and love. There is an amazing chemistry in our newsroom that is so rare. Look at last year. When all hell broke loose all over the Central Coast with the never-ending storms, everyone dropped everything that they were doing and our newsroom turned into a machine. With Tamsin directing, everyone spread across the county and produced amazing work. We worked around the clock in often miserable conditions. We all wanted to do everything we could do to inform our community about what was going on, and to get it right. That’s what all of us at Lookout want to do. We want to get it right. 


4. Our family and loved ones. Being married to a journalist is not easy. We have crazy schedules, if we have schedules at all. We work long and unpredictable hours and are always ready to cover events on the drop of a dime if needed. We can not thank you enough for your love and support and realizing that being a journalist is more than a job to us. It’s a passion. We feel that what we do really matters.


5. Of course, there is our community. Each and everyone of us love our community. You are the reason why we do what we do. You are the reason why a news organization like ours can even exist. We all truly thank you for supporting Lookout.


Here are some interesting links:


Below you will find some of the photographs that were part of this photodocumentary, all of these were taken by Kevin:

Eric Stark, who owns his "dream home" that sits between Beach Drive and Rio Del Mar beach in Aptos clears out all of his belongings. The combination of huge swells and high tides completely knocked out is front wall of his house and completely flooded the first floor of his house that he has owned since 2018. Photo by Kevin Painchaud.

Eric Stark, who owns his "dream home" that sits between Beach Drive and Rio Del Mar beach in Aptos clears out all of his belongings. The combination of huge swells and high tides completely knocked out is front wall of his house and completely flooded the first floor of his house that he has owned since 2018. Photo by Kevin Painchaud.


As the result of the "Bomb Cyclone" that soaked Central Coast and the Bay Area on Wednesday night and early Thursday morning, along with the combination of huge swells and a high tide, many of the local pier were severely damaged. The Capitola Wharf has a large section of the wharf destroyed and lay in pieces along the beach.

As the result of the "Bomb Cyclone" that soaked Central Coast and the Bay Area on Wednesday night and early Thursday morning, along with the combination of huge swells and a high tide, many of the local pier were severely damaged. The Capitola Wharf has a large section of the wharf destroyed and lay in pieces along the beach. Photo by Kevin Painchaud.


A dad helps his daughter through the flooded streets of East Lake Ave in Watsonville. Photo take around 9am on Monday January 9, 2023. Photo by Kevin Painchaud.

A dad helps his daughter through the flooded streets of East Lake Ave in Watsonville. Photo take around 9am on Monday January 9, 2023. Photo by Kevin Painchaud.


California Governor Newsom inspects the damage inflicted upon the Central Coast. Photo by Kevin Painchaud.

California Governor Newsom inspects the damage inflicted upon the Central Coast. Photo by Kevin Painchaud.


A car overcome by the flooded waters in the town of Pajaro. Photo by Kevin Painchaud.

A car overcome by the flooded waters in the town of Pajaro. Photo by Kevin Painchaud.


The sheriff SWAT team tows the sheriff dive team through the flooded waters of Pajaro. Photo by Kevin Painchaud.

The sheriff SWAT team tows the sheriff dive team through the flooded waters of Pajaro. Photo by Kevin Painchaud.


The combination of high tides and huge swells, that were estimated being over 35 feet tall, did extensive damage to the Seacliff Pier at Seacliff State Beach and the WWII iconic "Cement Ship" that lay off the Aptos coast. Photo by Kevin Painchaud.

The combination of high tides and huge swells, that were estimated being over 35 feet tall, did extensive damage to the Seacliff Pier at Seacliff State Beach and the WWII iconic "Cement Ship" that lay off the Aptos coast. Photo by Kevin Painchaud.


 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Kevin Painchaud

Kevin Painchaud is a Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist for the online daily news organization Lookout Santa Cruz. 

He was previously a photographer for the Santa Cruz Sentinel newspaper, and various other publications over the past 25 years.  His photographs have been seen in news sites nationwide, including ABC news, CBS news, Washington Post, NPR, CNN, MSNBC and more. His videos were recently shown on ABC's World News Tonight.




 

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Guest
Jun 04
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Congratulations Kevin!

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Guest
Jun 09
Replying to

Thank you so much.

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