Eli Sanders of 11th Ave-headquartered The Stranger has been awarded a 2012 Pulitzer Prize for his work documenting the story of South Park attack victim Jennifer Hopper.
His June 2011 report — The Bravest Woman in Seattle — came as the trial of Isaiah Kalebu for his 2009 attack played out. Hopper and her partner, Teresa Butz, were brutally assaulted. Butz was murdered. Kalebu, eventually, was sentenced to life in prison. Hopper survived and Sanders documented her testimony and pain:
The horror of what happened next made the court reporter’s eyes well up, made the bailiff cry, had the whole room in tears. The jury handed around a box of tissues. The prosecutor took long pauses to collect himself. The family and friends in the courtroom cried (though, truth be told, they had been crying throughout). The Seattle Times reporter seated next to me cried. I cried. The camerawoman who was shooting video for all the television stations in town cried—and later on hugged Butz’s partner as she left the courtroom for the midmorning break.
Associate editor Sanders, a 1995 Garfield High graduate who keeps a Capitol Hill apartment, and The Stranger continue to see their prominence rise in the city’s media scene — especially as many in large media fade under increasing budget constraints and revenue challenges. Last summer, the Seattle Times profiled publisher Tim Keck, also a Capitol Hill resident, but wasn’t able to reveal much about how the business ticks. Stranger efforts regularly range beyond traditional media. Last June, we reported on the launch of Stranger Tickets.
The Seattle Times was also awarded a Pulitzer for its investigative work on the use of methadone in the state.
The Stranger published its first issue in 1991 in the University District but reportedly didn’t hit its stride until it began covering “the cultural scene on Capitol Hill.”
This is the publication’s first Pulitzer.