Post-Star Pulitzer
Mahoney is honored for editorials
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Mark Mahoney, The Post-Star's editorial page editor, has won the editorial writing category of the 2009 Pulitzer Prizes, journalism's top honors.

The national contest annually recognizes the best reporting and writing published in a calendar year, and the honorees generally come from the biggest and most well-known newspapers in the country.

The Post-Star has never before been recognized as a Pulitzer Prize winner or finalist and, with a 34,000 daily circulation, it was the smallest paper among this year's winners.

Only one other paper with less than 100,000 circulation -- The East Valley Tribune of Mesa, Ariz., a co-winner in the local news category -- was among the winners.

All the others were large metropolitan papers, such as The New York Times, which won five prizes.

Mahoney was first picked as one of three finalists -- the other two were editorial writers from The Chicago Tribune and The Washington Post. In the final round of judging, Mahoney was picked as the winner.

Each entrant in the editorials category had to send in 10 examples of his work.

Mahoney's editorials focused on issues to which he has returned many times over the years -- governmental openness and accountability, freedom of information and First Amendment rights.

Mahoney's specialty, recognized by the judges, is to take on complicated, contentious issues with clarity and wit. He has a gift for making dry topics, like the Freedom of Information Law, readable through entertaining examples and comparisons.

"In the time it takes you to read this sentence, it will have spent about $20,000," Mahoney opened a recent editorial about spending by state government.

Beneath Mahoney's easy style is an ability to marshal powerful arguments in a logical way, so readers feel borne along, sentence by sentence, to an inevitable conclusion.

Editor Ken Tingley said Mahoney's win made him think of the line from the movie "Hoosiers," when the basketball coach is urging on his small-school team to the championship.

"This is for all the small newspapers out there that never got to play in the game," Tingley said.

Tingley, who has served in recent years as a Pulitzer judge in other categories, also recalled Mahoney's reluctance to enter the contest. But, he said, he was convinced by his experience as a judge that Mahoney's work was good enough to win.

"When I was a judge last year, I came back and said to Mark, 'We can play in this league. You can win this thing.' "

Rick Emanuel took over as The Post-Star's publisher about six months ago.

"To me," he said, "it's the highest honor in the industry, and Mark Mahoney is one of the most talented editorial writers in the country. He deserves national recognition for writing about hometown issues."

Mary Junck, chief executive officer of Lee Enterprises, which owns The Post-Star, called the news "fabulous."

"He's a wonderful writer," she said. "I'm thrilled the (Pulitzer) board has honored him in this way."

On Monday, Mahoney was out of the office when the prizes were announced. Emanuel reached him on his cell phone, calling him back for an impromptu office announcement.

Mahoney, stunned into silence, sat while the staff cheered and applauded. A few minutes later, after stammering through an interview with The Associated Press, Mahoney left the office "to get some air," he said.

He returned in about half an hour to field more calls from around the country.

Mahoney, 45, started at The Post-Star in 1988 as a general assignment reporter. He began writing occasional editorials in 1994 and became the paper's primary editorial writer in 2000.

He became the editorial page editor in 2003 and regularly writes more than 200 editorials a year on local issues.

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Comments may have been posted to an earlier version of this article. You can easily browse through previous articles on the main Today's News and Blotter pages.

toriyama wrote on Apr 26, 2009 11:04 PM:

" Congrates from Japan. Good Show "

Peter Brothers wrote on Apr 24, 2009 10:10 PM:

" Congratulations Mark. Obviously, being somewhat biased, I liked the editorial on the comparables several years ago. A couple of others include but not limited to Sweeney at the frat party at Union College and the strongly worded opinion regarding legislation about use of sales tax involving Great Escape. Not having the editorials in front of me and considering these were a while ago, I am a little vague on specifics. However, they stick in my mind as work well done in addition to others you have written. Great Job. "

sublevel0 wrote on Apr 22, 2009 2:31 PM:

" What a great accomplishment and honor for the region. Congratulations Mark, I look forward to reading more or your work. I was interested to see you are from Wappinger's Falls and worked at WPDH/WEOK. I worked there in 1986-87 and lived in Wappinger's at the time. "

patcher wrote on Apr 22, 2009 11:59 AM:

" What an honor, not only for Mark, but the whole area as well. When one of "our own" makes it out there - we all feel a sence of pride. Congratulations Mark! "

ccbf wrote on Apr 21, 2009 10:53 PM:

" I like the idea of a link to the winning editorials... "

tresreader wrote on Apr 21, 2009 9:56 PM:

" Congratulations Mark Mahoney! Such a deserved honor. The Pulitzer!

You perform an enormous service to anyone who reads The Post Star.
You do so well in expressing thoughts and ideas that bring your readers to think just a little bit harder.
Keep up the good work. "

brian wrote on Apr 21, 2009 9:56 PM:

" Mark, your work on open government and accountability are without question your best stuff.

Hopefully governments will honor your Pulitzer by following your counsel on this. "

nicole wrote on Apr 21, 2009 9:07 PM:

" WOW!!!!!!!!!! Congratulations! What an amazing and prestigious accomplishment. We are very proud of you and of our newspaper. "

tresreader wrote on Apr 21, 2009 8:59 PM:

" Congratulations, Mark Mahoney!

A Pulitzer! What a rare and deserved honor. Count me among your local fans who are feeling so proud of your writing from deep convictions on important issues. You have inspired me to take action and write to my state and federal representatives about issues that you have brought to my attention in bright lights.

Thank you. Keep up the inspiring work! "

Pete wrote on Apr 21, 2009 2:11 PM:

" Congrats Mark! "

H. Adirondacker wrote on Apr 21, 2009 11:13 AM:

" Congrats! Keep up the good works Mr. Mahoney. How thrilled you must be!
Someone from my hometown winning a Pulitzer! "

gugny wrote on Apr 21, 2009 9:55 AM:

" This is phenomenal. Congratulations! "

albert wrote on Apr 21, 2009 9:25 AM:

" Congratulations, Mark. "

bassman wrote on Apr 21, 2009 8:34 AM:

" Good for you! Congratulations for a thoughful and well-stated series of essays etc. "

kads wrote on Apr 21, 2009 8:21 AM:

" Congratulations! Can you please provide a prominent link to the 10 pieces that Mark Mahoney wrote to win the Pulitzer? "

homo civicus wrote on Apr 21, 2009 7:24 AM:

" Congratulations Mark! "

deMaven wrote on Apr 21, 2009 6:18 AM:

" Sonuvagun. Congratulations!!!

Cream rises.

We're proud of you, what a heck of an accomplishment.. "

mikec wrote on Apr 21, 2009 1:52 AM:

" WTG My friend!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! "

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