The scoop Nigel Jaquiss got about political leader Neil Goldschmidt was one that would create a terrible stir in Oregon, if only he could nail it down. If he couldn't lay out sufficient proof, he risked destroying his paper, Willamette Week. Jaquiss describes the twists and turns that led to the publication of the stories that won him the 2005 Pulitzer Prize in Investigative Reporting, along with an AltWeekly Award. This is the seventh in a "How I Got That Story" series highlighting the AltWeekly Awards' first-place winners.
Because sometimes winning a Pulitzer just isn't enough: Willamette Week's Nigel Jaquiss also won an award from Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. (IRE) for "The 30-Year Secret" -- the same work for which he won the Pulitzer yesterday. Qualifying as a finalist was New Times Broward-Palm Beach's Bob Norman for "Sick District," his investigation into the mismanagement of Broward County's tax-assisted public health care system.
Nigel Jaquiss, a staff writer at the Portland, Ore., alt-weekly, received the prize in investigative reporting for "his investigation exposing a former governor's long concealed sexual misconduct with a 14-year-old girl," according to this afternoon's announcement on Pulitzer.org. He beat out finalists from The New York Times and The Des Moines Register.
In May 2004, Willamette Week staff writer Nigel Jaquiss called Oregon State Senator Vicki Walker. He wanted to talk to her about the business dealings of Neil Goldschmidt, a prominent Oregonian and former governor. Instead, she tipped the reporter to what would become a major scandal. Portland Monthly tells the story of how Jaquiss, through months of tireless investigation, revealed the long-buried truth that Goldschmidt had sexually abused a 14-year-old girl; and how one reporter's efforts led the alt-weekly to scoop The Oregonian, a major daily with a staff of 300.
The story was percolating for some 20 years. Reporters pursued it but not far enough. And then, Jill Rosen reports in American Journalism Review, a feisty Oregon alt-weekly made a stunning revelation on its Web site May 6. Former governor Neil Goldschmidt, when he was mayor of Portland, had had sexual relations with a girl who was only 14. A lead from a state senator, followed by intensive records searches and interviews, helped Willamette Week's Nigel Jaquiss pull the story together.
Since Willamette Week broke the story that former Oregon Governor Neil Goldschmidt had had sex over a three-year period with a girl who was only 14 at the start, Oregonians have been obsessed with the story, Blaine Harden reports on the front page of Monday's Washington Post. One of the questions people are asking, he writes, is why the state's most powerful newspaper, The Oregonian, in its first-day coverage of Goldschmidt's confession, seemed "to go so easy on him, calling his behavior an 'affair' and describing his apology as 'heartfelt.'"
Nigel Jaquiss of Willamette Week and Pete Kotz of the Cleveland Scene win special citations in the 2002 National Awards for Education Reporting. Kotz' citation was for opinion writing in the 100,000 and above division for "Welcome to Cheaptown." Jaquiss was recognized for feature writing in the under 100,000 division for his story “Anywhere, U.S.A.: Portland is in Danger of Losing the One Thing That Makes It Unique." He won a first place in this contest last year in investigative reporting.
Nigel Jaquiss of Willamette Week and Pete Kotz of Cleveland Scene are awarded special citations by the Education Writers Association.