Jacqui Banaszynski is an American journalist. She was the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing in 1988. Banaszynski went on to become a professor and a Knight Chair at the school of journalism at University of Missouri.
Banaszynski grew up in a small farming village in Wisconsin. Banaszynski began working as a journalist in high school and when she was 15, became the editor of the school paper, the Pulaski News. Part of the appeal of working on the paper was that the journalism program gave her access to sporting events at the school level. Banaszynski graduated from Pulaski High School in 1970 and earned a degree in journalism from Marquette University in 1974. She was the first in her family to earn a college degree.
Around 1984, Banaszynski started working for the St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch. In 1986, she went on assignment to Africa and her story about Sudanese victims of famine, "The Trail of Tears," became a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in International Reporting in 1986.
Banaszynski wrote a special report called "AIDS in the Heartland" while she was a reporter at the St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch. The report was a series of stories that centered around the lives of two gay Minnesota farmers, one of whom had contracted AIDS. She and her photographer, Jean Pieri, searched for a year for subjects that they felt could "humanize people afflicted by this terrifying new illness." Their choice of following Dick Hanson and his partner, Bert Henningson, at first upset readers of the newspaper, but after the final installment of the 3 part series, most readers seemed to sympathize with both men. The series won a Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing in 1988.
Banaszynski was inducted into the American Society of Sunday and Feature Editors Hall of Fame in 2008. She went on to become the Knight Chair at the University of Missouri school of journalism.
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