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Palm Beach Post’s Pulitzer Prize is 40

Forty years ago this week, this newspaper won its first and, so far, only Pulitzer Prize. It was for feature photography, for Dallas Kinney’s photographs from the series, Migration to Misery.

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Kinney (above) and reporter Kent Pollock documented the hardships of migrant workers who struggled in the fields from North Carolina to the Glades.

“Shocked would be a bad word,” Pollock recently said of the conditions he reported.

“What I saw was an opportunity to speak to people that know what Palm Beach is like and, without even saying so, contrast this other lifestyle within spitting distance,” Pollock said.

The Palm Beach Post, acquired only a year earlier by Cox Enterprises, was heavily criticized for the eight-day series, published in October 1969. Critics said it sensationalized conditions. Readers dropped subscriptions.

And some of those written about expressed bitterness when they saw pictures of Kinney and Pollock celebrating with champagne while people’s lives in the Glades were unchanged.

“That still hurts,” Kinney said recently. But, he said, “I wanted that community to have new eyes as far as who their neighbors in the Glades were.”

Kinney left the Post to document the lives of American Indians, then went to the Philadelphia Inquirer, returned briefly to the Post, ran a weekly in Sanibel, worked for the Christian Broadcasting Network in Virginia and ran a Christian communications business in Mesa, Ariz. He now is a lecturer and consultant in Dahlonega, Ga., north of Atlanta.

Pollock went to the Philadelphia Inquirer, owned a small California weekly, ran a chain of weeklies, and eventually went to the Sacramento Bee, where at one point he oversaw some 200 people. He’s now a political consultant and a journalism professor at Sierra College in Rocklin in Northern California.

Now, most would agree, conditions are far better, but for many, still not acceptable.

“Sadly, it’s an occupation built for exploitation. That’s the sad fact. But we do like our cheap vegetables,” Kinney said.

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Reporter Kent Pollock pours champagne on photographer Dallas Kinney in celebration of Kinney winning a Pulitzer Prize. (Palm Beach Post file photo)

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Posted in Eliot Kleinberg May 6, 2010 at 8:49 am.

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