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April 22, 2010 - Image 30

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2010-04-22

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April 22 • 2010

Pulitzers In
Our Midst

This year's prize winners include
two with Detroit roots.

Shelli Liebman Dorfman
Senior Writer



if holding a medical degree
and a doctorate in neuro-
science weren't enough,
Michigan native Dr. Sheri Fink earned
a 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative
Reporting on April 12.
The award was given to Fink who
writes for ProPublica, an independent,
nonprofit, public-interest newsroom,
in collaboration
with The New York
Times Magazine,
where the story also
Along with the
announcement of
Fink's win came word
that Charles Ornstein,
Dr. Sheri Fink
a former Detroiter —
who also works at the
New York City-based ProPublica and
already is a 2005 Pulitzer Prize winner
— is one of this year's finalists.
Finks honor was awarded for
the story, "The Deadly Choices at
Memorial;' chronicling what transpired
at a New Orleans hospital cut off by
the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina.
It depicted, through interviews with
those who had been there, the legal and
ethical pressures they experienced and
recounted how medical staff worked
without power or running water and
made life or death decisions, including
those that resulted in the arrests of a
doctor and two nurses on charges of
mercy killing.
Following publication of the article,
the New Orleans coroner launched a
new investigation into the death of a
patient given morphine at the hos-
pital. The article was used to derive
recommendations for the Institute
of Medicine's national guidelines on
dealing with shortages of lifesaving
equipment in case of a major medical
A native Detroiter who lives in
Washington, D.C., Fink is a graduate
of Andover High School in Bloomfield
Hills and the University of Michigan in

Ann Arbor. She holds medical and doc-
toral degrees from Stanford University
in California. She is the daughter of
Herschel Fiik
, of Orchard Lake and the
late Annett Fink; the sister of Marc
Fink of Novi; and the granddaugh-
ter of Mary Fink, who lives in West
Having reported on health, medicine
and science in the U.S. and throughout
the world, Fink's articles have appeared
in the New York Times, Discover and
Scientific American.

Local Jewish Writing
Fink also has written for local publica-
tions."If I'm not mistaken, one of the
first stories I published in a non-student
publication was a piece on packing for
college for the Detroit Jewish News','
she said. "I also did some freelancing for
the Detroit Free Press in the 1990s.
"Winning a Pulitzer is a great honor,
and I was fortunate to work with fantas-
tic editors and colleagues at ProPublica
and The New York Times. My interest
in journalism goes back to the excite-
ment I felt as a child when my dad
brought me to news meetings at the
Detroit Free Press and dasses he taught
in media law at Wayne State University'
Fink's book, War Hospital: A True
Story of Surgery and Survival (Public
Affairs, 2003), won the American
Medical Writer's Association special
book award and was a finalist for the
Overseas Press Club and PEN Martha
Aibrand awards. She worked with
humanitarian aid organizations in more
than a half-dozen emergencies in the
U.S. and overseas. She is the recipient
of a Kaiser Media Fellowship in Health
from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

A Winner And A Finalist
"It's a huge honor to be a Pulitzer
finalist," said Charles Ornstein, senior
reporter for ProPublica.
His series, with Tracy Weber,
"When Caregivers Harm: California's
Unwatched Nurses:' which ran in the
Los Angeles Times and on ProPublica's

Pulitzers on page 32

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