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Happy New Year

Many years ago I lived in Central America . It was a time of civil war. People literally fought and died to win rights Americans took for granted. Fair elections. A functioning and impartial judicial system. Leaders that put the interests of their people above personal avarice. Freedom of expression without fear of government reprisal.

Today, as we bid farewell to an annus horribilis, I want to thank Donald Trump for reminding us of the value of those rights we have squandered for so many years. We neglectfully let them slip – long before Trump launched his campaign. Now, Trump’s assaults on the press, the justice system and our democratic norms have been so blatant, it is arousing the populace from its slumber.

One of the few bright spots of 2017 was the extraordinary level of civic engagement we witnessed. It began with the remarkable million-woman march on Washington. It has continued through sit-ins in the halls of Congress, mobilizations in special elections and an incredible outpouring of first-time candidates for political office. Americans have rediscovered that true democracy is more than a system of elections, it’s an ideal of civic participation.

Thank you, Donald, for the gift of revelation. May it spread far and wide.

Trump and his congressional majorities have shown all Americans – those who voted for them and those who did not – their true nature. Yes, some continue to discount what lies before their eyes. Yet every day the consequences become manifest and the blinders weigh more heavily. Actions speak louder than words.

The price of this gift is indeed dear. Anything of real value usually is. We can reckon the pain and suffering the rest of the year. Not today.

At the end of 2017, my thoughts go to Molly Ivins, my former boss and friend. Though she left us more than a decade ago, Molly has been on my mind often of late. We need her spirit more than ever.

For me, she gets the final word.

So keep fightin’ for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don’t you forget to have fun doin’ it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin’ ass and celebratin’ the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was.

Panama Papers Pulitzer Win!

pulitzer jake bernstein 2011Thrilled to announce my second Pulitzer Prize, this win is for explanatory journalism for the Panama Papers. It was also named a finalist for the International Reporting category. Every significant piece of journalism is the result of the work of multiple people not just the folks on the byline. This project was something else entirely – the collaboration of hundreds of talented journalists from around the world.

At its heart was an amazing nonprofit called the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. If you want to read and just as importantly support meaningful journalism in the public interest, I urge you to visit and check them out. Working with ICIJ, McClatchy, Miami Herald, Süddeutsche Zeitung and the Panama Papers team throughout the world was one of the highlights of my life. The experience makes this Pulitzer all the sweeter.

Jake Bernstein

Journo Productions, LLC