Anne Hull, a national reporter for The Washington Post, has won awards for her closely observed narratives of people living on the margins of society in America. When she won the 2008 Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award, Sept. 28, she treated her audience to an intimate look at her own craft—how she blended in with soldiers’ families to research the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Walter Reed and Beyond” series, how important it was to ride buses from the Mexican highlands to North Carolina to understand the immigrant experience of 22 Mexican women on H2B guest-worker visas, how pleased she was when one of her subjects answered a suspicious “Who’s that?” challenge by saying, “That’s nobody. That’s Anne.”
Hull invoked Eudora Welty to describe her approach to journalism: “It is not my job to judge, but merely to pull the curtain back to reveal this hidden world behind it.” She cited James Agee and Walker Evans in the Great Depression as inspirations. She quoted an editorial by 1994 Lovejoy winner Eugene Patterson that she kept on her desk for many years that inspired her “to shine a light into the eyes of someone who wishes to look away.”
Besides talking about the challenges of having to leave the comforts of home and city to report on the real America, Hull spoke about current and immediate challenges faced by newspapers that have diminishing resources to pour into reporting like the investigation that revealed the Walter Reed scandal.
“There is no replacement for that sort of reporting,” she said. “There’s a lot of James Agees still around doing this, but they’re becoming fewer and fewer, replaced by this caffeinated society of bloggers and Twitterers who are filing dispatches from a T-Mobile spot at Starbucks.”