UC Berkeley, Daily Cal alumnus awarded Pulitzer Prize for ProPublica series

Campus Journalism professor T. Christian Miller won second Pulitzer Prize
Leslie Miller/Courtesy

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Campus alumnus T. Christian Miller, who is also a lecturer at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and former member of The Daily Californian, was awarded his second Pulitzer Prize on Sunday for his work on a ProPublica investigation.

The series examines two U.S. military incidents that took place in the western Pacific Ocean in 2017 and 2018 that resulted in the deaths of 17 sailors and six aviators. Over the course of their 18-month investigation, Miller and his ProPublica colleagues ultimately determined that the incidents were preventable, and that top Navy officials were aware of the problems that caused them but failed to act effectively.

“ProPublica is all about accountability, and we showed the senior Navy leadership, specifically the chief, had known about the problems in the western Pacific and had done very little about it,” Miller said.

The series demonstrates that the deadly incidents could be traced back to well-known factors, including a lack of up-to-date equipment, the need for more training and a “worn down” fleet of ships.

Miller said the Pulitzer Prize puts a spotlight on the Navy’s ongoing efforts to fix itself and will help ensure that it follows through on its commitment to remedy the issues.

“In every way, it was a story that was really complex and difficult to report, and it was complex and difficult to write. Speaking personally for myself, it was kind of a peak story that demands all of your resources,” Miller said. “I think we would all say that it was definitely firing on all cylinders at all times.”

Miller is one of the founding members of ProPublica, a nonprofit investigative news outlet, and has been recognized with several accolades throughout his 20 years as an investigative journalist, including the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting in 2016 for his work on a series exploring the topic of sexual assault in the United States.

Miller described journalism as a “quasi-religious” calling and said he has known it is what he wanted to do since he was a student at UC Berkeley.

According to Ed Wasserman, dean of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, Miller taught a course on data journalism at various times since 2014 and worked closely with the school’s Investigative Reporting Program.

Miller’s work on the series for ProPublica pulled him away from teaching the data journalism course last spring, but he said he hopes to be invited back to teach the course again soon

“He developed a strong following among students, and has set an example for all of us for his focus, drive and accomplishments,” Wasserman said in an email. “We are thrilled by this prize, and look forward to continuing to collaborate with T.”

Contact Jacob Souza at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @jsouza_dailycal.