E. R. Shipp
E. R. Shipp (born June 6, 1955) is an American journalist and columnist. As a columnist for the New York Daily News, she was awarded the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for "her penetrating columns on race, welfare and other social issues."
Early life and education
Shipp was born the oldest of six children to an extremely poor African-American family in Conyers, Georgia. The "E. R." stands for "a good southern name" that she hasn't "grown into" yet. Except for a brief stay in public housing, they lacked indoor plumbing and were forced to bring in buckets of water multiple times per day. Shipp attended the J. P. Carr School until 1968, when she transferred to Rockdale County High School, where she was one of the first black students, and graduated in 1972. It was expected that she would work in a factory upon graduation but teachers pushed her to seek scholarships. She thought journalism "sounded a hell of a lot more interesting and easier than working in a factory" and began working as a home economics correspondent for a local newspaper while still in high school.
Shipp graduated from Georgia State University in 1976 with a BA in journalism and interned at the Atlanta Journal. She moved to New York City and graduated from Columbia University with an MS in journalism in 1979 and a JD in 1980.
She began working for the New York Times in 1980. She spent thirteen years there, working as a reporter and editor until 1993. In 1990, she and five other Times reporters published the book Outrage: The Story Behind the Tawana Brawley Hoax. Ellen Goodman, in the New York Times Book Review, praised its "thoroughness" and wrote that the authors "chase down every lead, go down every blind alley, talk to every Deep Throat, profile every character in a cast as long and exotic as that of a Solzhenitsyn novel." Shipp also wrote the paper's obituary for civil rights leader Rosa Parks. It is common practice to write obituaries of famous people in advance. Shipp began the obituary in 1988 and Parks died in 2005, long after Shipp left the Times.
In 1993 she left the Times to pursue graduate work in history. She earned an MA in history in 1994 and was working on a PhD thesis about relations between former slaves and former slave owners in rural Georgia, including an examination of her own family history. She also became an assistant professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and was faculty supervisor of the student publication Bronx Beat.
Shipp began writing for the New York Daily News as an op-ed columnist in 1994. She said "If you feel passionate about a subject, the columns almost write themselves." Among the topics she wrote about the year she won the Pulitzer were affirmative action, Johnnie Cochran and the O. J. Simpson murder trial, and the Million Man March. "There are no sacred cows in a Shipp column", wrote the Daily News in the letter nominating her for a Pulitzer. Her columns have prompted angry feedback, including from members of her own church, the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, when she criticized her pastor Calvin O. Butts in one column. However, when Shipp was awarded the Pulitzer, Butts led his congregation in a standing ovation from the pulpit.
From 1998 to 2000, Shipp served as the ombudsman at the Washington Post, which had one of the few and perhaps the most independent of such positions in the US news media. Responsible for discussing the Post's policies and editorial decisions, among the issues she discussed in her column were the murder of Jesse Dirkhising and the coverage of the candidates in the 2000 presidential election. She complained about the inaccessibility of the newsroom and its lack of communication with readers but expressed hope that these issues could be addressed.
- "E. R. Shipp." Contemporary Black Biography. Vol. 15. Detroit: Gale, 1997. Gale Biography In Context. Web. August 8, 2011.
- Magnuson, Carolyn (November 9, 1996). "A straightforward Pulitzer recipient". Editor & Publisher 129: 38–9.
- Locy, Toni (July 8, 1998). "New York Columnist Is Named Post Ombudsman". Washington Post. pp. A13.
- Stafford, Leon (February 27, 1998). "Rockdale honors alumna E.R. Shipp". Atlanta Journal and Constitution. pp. 04JJ.
- Heinz Dietrich Fischer; Erika J. Fischer (October 2002). Complete biographical encyclopedia of Pulitzer Prize winners, 1917-2000: journalists, writers and composers on their ways to the coveted awards. Walter de Gruyter. p. 222. ISBN 978-3-598-30186-5. Retrieved August 9, 2011.
- Goodman, Ellen (July 29, 1990). "The Brawley Battlefield". New York Times Book Review. p. 7.
- Strupp, Joe (January 1, 2006). "Obits Find New Life". Editor & Publisher.
- "E.R. Shipp Wins '96 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary". Columbia University Record 21 (24). April 19, 1996.
- Elizabeth A. Brennan; Elizabeth C. Clarage (1999). Who's who of Pulitzer Prize winners. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 68. ISBN 978-1-57356-111-2. Retrieved August 9, 2011.
- Dawkins, Wayne (July 2003). Rugged waters: black journalists swim the mainstream. August Press LLC. pp. 147–148. ISBN 978-0-9635720-7-3. Retrieved August 9, 2011.
- Neil Nemeth (2003). News ombudsmen in North America: assessing an experiment in social responsibility. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 57–58. ISBN 978-0-313-32136-8. Retrieved August 9, 2011.
- "Columnist E.R. Shipp Installed as Hofstra Professor". Editor & Publisher. November 18, 2005.
- Prince, Richard. "Journal-isms". "E.R. Shipp Named Morgan State Journo-in-Residence,". Maynard Institute. Retrieved August 23, 2012.