Pulitzer winner is former Gazette reporter

Staff Writer
Monday, April 16, 2018

NORTHAMPTON — An in-depth newspaper series, reporting on the potential impacts of President Donald Trump’s pledge to install a wall on the 2,000 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border, on Monday earned a Pulitzer Prize for its team of journalists, including for a lead reporter whose first experience at a daily newspaper came in Northampton.

Daniel Gonzalez, who specializes on writing about immigration, Latino issues and minority communities for the Arizona Republic and arizonacentral.com, spent a significant amount of time last year focused on the USA Today network-led “The Wall: Unknown Stories. Unintended Consequences” that received the explanatory journalism prize.

“It’s super incredibly exciting for everyone who worked on this project,” said Gonzalez, describing it as a “huge undertaking” for everyone from editors, reporters and photographers to designers, videographers and data researchers. “It was a true team journalistic effort.”

Gonzalez worked for four years at the Daily Hampshire Gazette from 1987 to 1991.

Work on the project began in January 2017 and culminated in the September 2017 publishing of the stories, mini documentaries and interactive online website that provides perspectives from both Americans and Mexicans.

Gonzalez said its genesis came following a promise made in Arizona by then candidate Trump in 2016 when he stated the need to build a border wall. Arizona Republic editor Nicole Carroll came back to her newsroom stating that as a leader in coverage of immigration and border, its reporters should tackle the project and make the contents available to more than 100 newspapers in the USA Today network.

Gonzalez initially focused on several of the main pieces. For one, he followed Selene Ramirez, an American woman, who searched the desert for her undocumented migrant brother, whom she correctly feared had died in his attempt to enter the United States. For another, he interviewed a smuggler named Alexis in Mexicali.

Gonzalez also visited tomato farmers who discussed the possible impact of a tax on their good to help pay for the wall.

Gonzalez said the end result shows people from all over the country, no matter how unfamiliar they are with the border, how big, immense, rugged and desolate the regions can be.

Gonzalez said though in Arizona for 18 years, and in Syracuse, New York for nine years before that, he looks back at his time in Northampton with fondness and credits two editors for his love of journalism: Larry Parnass, now investigations editor at The Berkshire Eagle, and the late Steve Szkotak, who went on to work for the Associated Press in Virginia.

“The Daily Hampshire Gazette is a phenomenal newspaper and I worked with very talented journalist who could have worked anywhere,” Gonzalez said.