Boston Globe reporter Sarah Schweitzer, a University alum and former Michigan Daily reporter, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in feature writing this year.

Schweitzer was chosen for her piece ”Chasing Bayla”. The piece recounts biologist Michael Moore’s efforts to help injured right whales, the journey of a right whale named Bayla and how their paths ultimately met.

In an interview with The Michigan Daily, Schweitzer said she was happy Moore’s work garnered positive recognition.

“It felt great,” Schweitzer said about being named a finalist. “It’s wonderful to get the recognition from people that are incredible journalists and leaders of the field. The recognition is wonderful. It feels really great to get it for Dr. Moore and the whales. Dr. Moore’s work deserves recognition. The whales’ situation deserves people knowing about it and as a writer it’s great honor.”

According to the Pulitzer Prize website, Schweitzer was given the award for her “masterful narrative of one scientist’s mission to save a rare whale, a beautiful story fortified by expansive reporting, a quiet lyricism and disciplined use of multimedia.”

Schweitzer said she knew very little about Moore’s work when she met with him around the time of Bayla’s death. She said Moore felt that much of his work to save whales had not produced the results he desired.

“It struck me that that was a very powerful feeling and one that people could relate to,” she said. “There is lots of people who dedicate their lives to things and don’t see the results they want. And it raised a lot of important questions about perseverance and the meaning of success. And then you paired it with the story of Bayla and the careless situation for right whales like Bayla, and it is a compelling tale.”

Schweitzer began writing the story in April 2014 and finished it in October 2015. Despite the lengthy writing process, Schweitzer said she never grew tired of working on the story because there were many stages in the reporting process.

Schweitzer also said while she was not certain how others would react to the story, she had confidence in her work.

“I really liked it,” she said. “I guess I would say that my heart was really in this story. It mattered. The subject matter really spoke to me and so I was very invested in this story. And so I felt good about it. I had no idea how it would be received.”

Schweitzer said a difficult part of doing research for the article was looking at footage of Bayla, whose condition she described as “heart-wrenching”. She also said Moore was a very private man, so some of the reporting was hard because she often had to ask him personal questions.

Schweitzer said her article shows that everyone has their struggles in life, even someone as successful as Moore.

“The measure of success is sometimes tough on people. And we just all struggle within to satisfy ourselves and things that we want to accomplish in our lives and figuring out a way to make our peace with not attaining what we want sometimes, it’s really hard. And it’s very human to me to grapple with that … and that the whales are really great.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.