An association for alumni and supporters of The Daily Texan

Friends of The Daily Texan

An association for alumni and supporters of The Daily Texan

Friends of The Daily Texan

An association for alumni and supporters of The Daily Texan

Friends of The Daily Texan

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Daily Texan alum Falkenberg, colleagues win 2022 Pulitzer in editorial writing

The Houston Chronicle

The Houston Chronicle Editorial Board on May 9 won a 2022 Pulitzer Prize in editorial writing for a series on voter suppression in Texas.

The top honor was awarded to writers Lisa Falkenberg, Michael Lindenberger, Joe Holley and Luis Carrasco. Mostly published in a series called, “The Big Lie,” their winning work examined and debunked GOP-driven falsehoods about voter fraud that have persisted for decades.

Falkenberg is a journalism graduate of the University of Texas and a former staffer at The Daily Texan.

Lisa Falkenberg

“Our editorial team is committed to journalism excellence each and every day,” Houston Chronicle Publisher Nancy Meyer said following the announcement. “The award-winning work surrounding voter fraud and reform continues to prove the positive impact our reporting has for improving the lives of Houstonians and the people of Texas.”

Jurors who decided the award wrote that the Chronicle won for a “campaign that, with original reporting, revealed voter suppression tactics, rejected the myth of widespread voter fraud and argued for sensible voting reforms.”

This is the Chronicle’s — and Falkenberg’s — second Pulitzer. She won the newspaper’s first prize in 2015 for commentary.

Falkenberg, who is the Chronicle’s vice president and editor of opinion, on Monday stressed her editorial board’s findings: There is no evidence that elections are rigged by widespread voter fraud, even in a state that expends taxpayer money to find it. She added that she intended for the series to hold leaders such as Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton accountable for perpetrating the voter fraud myth, and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz for “helping provoke the attack on our nation’s Capitol by leading the charge to challenge 2020 presidential election results.”

“My greatest hope is that this award will increase the probability that the leaders who dearly need to read this series on voter suppression actually will,” she said. “Our democracy is threatened by their lies and it will take courageous elected leaders and strong journalism to ensure the truth prevails. I’m beyond thrilled that our team on the Houston Chronicle Editorial Board has been recognized for our role in setting the record straight.”

The team published “The Big Lie” in 2021 as the heavily Republican Texas Legislature considered bills to restrict voting statewide, including by limiting hours, letting partisans film voters they find suspicious, and banning certain innovations that helped increase turnout in blue Harris County such as drive-thru voting. Gov. Greg Abbott eventually signed a version into law over fierce opposition from Texas Democrats.

The board’s five-part series examined how Texas lawmakers groomed Republican constituents to believe in widespread voter fraud, paving the way for bills avowing the advancement of “election integrity.”

One of the pieces found that such wrongdoing is sparse: After 15 years of looking for fraud among the 94 million votes cast in Texas elections since 2005, the Texas Attorney General’s office had prosecuted all of 155 people. Including the 19 cases cataloged by the conservative Heritage Foundation, which include federal and county prosecutions, the number increases to a total of 174.

Two additional editorials, which preceded the series, were submitted for the award and contributed to the win. In those, the board voiced outrage at Cruz and other Texas Republicans for their actions leading up to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Executive Editor Maria Reeve said the team’s work was invaluable.

“We are so incredibly proud of the work our editorial department has done to illuminate the pressing issues of our community and state,” Reeve said. “Well done!”

Falkenberg’s first Pulitzer win came in 2015 for a series on a wrongful conviction in a death case, which also led Texas lawmakers to reform the grand jury system. She was also a Pulitzer finalist in 2014 and has since served as a juror for the prizes on three occasions.

Falkenberg leads the editorial board as well as the paper’s opinion and outlook sections. Raised in Seguin, she joined the Chronicle staff in 2005.

She was also the 2015 honoree of the Mary Alice Davis Distinguished Lecture in Journalism at UT. This is an annual Journalism School program by former Texan staffer James Davis and his daughter Rachel, in honor of Mary Alice Davis.

Lindenberger, a Kentucky native, is the newspaper’s deputy opinion editor. He joined the Chronicle in 2018 after 14 years at the Dallas Morning News and prior writing and editing positions at The Courier-Journal in Kentucky. Lindenberger is also a teacher, public speaker and graduate of the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville.

Holley is an auxiliary member of the editorial board. Originally from Waco, he has been the newspaper’s “Native Texan” columnist since 2013. Holley was also an editorial writer from 2012 to 2017, capping a long career spanning multiple states.

He is the author of six books, a former speechwriter for Texas Gov. Ann Richards, a former staff writer for the Washington Post and a former editorial page editor and columnist for newspapers in San Antonio and San Diego. This is his second time being named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize — the first being for a Houston Chronicle series of editorials on gun control — and his first win.

Carrasco is a former member of the editorial board. Born in El Paso and raised in Ciudad Juarez, he became a reporter and editor for English and Spanish-language publications in Texas, Arizona and Tennessee. He joined the Chronicle in 2019 and is currently an editorial writer and columnist at The Seattle Times.

The team’s award comes with a $15,000 prize.

Also named as finalists in the editorial writing category were the editorial staff of the Times-Picayune and The New Orleans Advocate, for articles demanding transparency when an investigative reporter was sued by state’s attorney general for a public records request; and Abdallah Fayyad of The Boston Globe, for a series arguing that President Donald Trump should be prosecuted for crimes committed in office.