Emerson alums win Pulitzer Prize for Boston Globe reporting

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Photo: Courtesy

Evan Allen ’11 (left) and Brendan McCarthy ’04

By Camilo Fonseca, Assistant News Editor

Two Emerson College alumni, Brendan McCarthy and Evan Allen, were among a team of Boston Globe journalists to receive a Pulitzer Prize on Friday, honoring their work exposing a nationwide trend of dangerous drivers being permitted to stay on the road despite prior infractions. 

The 2021 award for investigative reporting, announced by Columbia University on Friday, went to The Boston Globe’s “Blind Spot” investigation, a three-part series published in August 2020. Over the course of a 14-month investigation, the Blind Spot team—reporters Allen, Matt Rocheleau, Vernal Coleman, and Laura Crimaldi, as well as editor McCarthy—uncovered a nationwide trend of state governments allowing high-risk drivers to stay on the roads, despite documented warning signs.

Their efforts revealed the “systematic failure by state governments to share information about dangerous truck drivers that could have kept them off the road,” according to the Pulitzer Prize website

The award citation further stated that “Blind Spot” had brought about “immediate reforms” in state motor vehicle policy and regulation.

The other finalists for the award were Margie Mason and Robin McDowell of the Associated Press, for their exploration of the palm oil industry’s human rights abuses, and AP’s Dake Kang, for his staff’s investigation of China’s state secrecy policies.

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McCarthy, a former Beacon staff member, graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004; he currently serves as deputy projects editor for the Globe. McCarthy has won Peabody, Emmy, and George Pol awards for his coverage of crime and police abuse, and was previously named a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2009 for his investigation into an unsolved teen murder for The Times-Picayune in New Orleans.

During her time at Emerson, Allen wrote for Gauge magazine before graduating with a degree in Writing, literature and publishing in 2011. She joined the Globe that same year as a freelance reporter, covering breaking news events such as the Boston Marathon bombings   before joining the newsroom’s narrative team.

2021’s prize marks the 27th award that has gone to Globe journalists since the inception of the Pulitzers in 1917; previous recipients include the Spotlight team in 2003, for their role in uncovering the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal. The paper’s newsroom teams have been Pulitzer finalists seven times in the past three years, the Globe reported.

“There is not a more deeply-committed, talented newsroom of any regional paper in this country,” Brian McGrory, editor of the Globe, said in a video celebrating the victory. “We should all be incredibly proud of that.”

“I’m not proud because we just won a Pulitzer Prize,” McGrory continued. “I’m really glad that we won a Pulitzer Prize—[but] I’m proud because of what we do every day.”