Statement on Walter Duranty

Columbia University – Nov 21, 2003

Statement on Walter Duranty's 1932 Prize

After more than six months of study and deliberation, the Pulitzer Prize Board has decided it will not revoke the foreign reporting prize awarded in 1932 to Walter Duranty of The New York Times.

In recent months, much attention has been paid to Mr. Duranty's dispatches regarding the famine in the Soviet Union in 1932-1933, which have been criticized as gravely defective. However, a Pulitzer Prize for reporting is awarded not for the author's body of work or for the author's character but for the specific pieces entered in the competition. Therefore, the board focused its attention on the 13 articles that actually won the prize, articles written and published during 1931. [A complete list of the articles, with dates and headlines, is attached.]

In its review of the 13 articles, the Board determined that Mr. Duranty's 1931 work, measured by today's standards for foreign reporting, falls seriously short. In that regard, the Board's view is similar to that of The New York Times itself and of some scholars who have examined his 1931 reports. However, the board concluded that there was not clear and convincing evidence of deliberate deception, the relevant standard in this case. Revoking a prize 71 years after it was awarded under different circumstances, when all principals are dead and unable to respond, would be a momentous step and therefore would have to rise to that threshold.

The famine of 1932-1933 was horrific and has not received the international attention it deserves. By its decision, the board in no way wishes to diminish the gravity of that loss. The Board extends its sympathy to Ukrainians and others in the United States and throughout the world who still mourn the suffering and deaths brought on by Josef Stalin.

Walter Duranty's 13 articles in 1931 submitted for 1932 Pulitzer Prize

Eleven-part series in The New York Times

Duranty 1 6/14/1931 - "Red Russia of Today Ruled by Stalinism, Not Communism"
Duranty 2 6/16/1931 - "Socialism First Aim in Soviet's Program; Trade Gains Second"
Duranty 3 6/18/1931 - "Stalinism Shelves World Revolt Idea; To Win Russia First"
Duranty 4 6/19/1931 - "Industrial Success Emboldens Soviet in New World Policy"
Duranty 5 6/20/1931 - "Trade Equilibrium is New Soviet Goal"
Duranty 6 6/22/1931 - "Soviet Fixes Opinion by Widest Control"
Duranty 7 6/23/1931 - "Soviet Censorship Hurts Russia Most"
Duranty 8 6/24/1931 - "Stalinism Smashes Foes in Marx's Name"
Duranty 9 6/25/1931 - "Red Army is Held No Menace to Peace"
Duranty 10 6/26/1931 - "Stalinism Solving Minorities Problem"
Duranty 11 6/27/1931 - "Stalinism's Mark is Party Discipline"

Two articles in The New York Times magazine

Duranty 12 3/29/1931 - "The Russian Looks at the World"
Duranty 13 12/20/1931 - "Stalin's Russia Is An Echo of Iron Ivan's"