Martin Oliver "Mo" Waldron (February 2, 1925 – May 27, 1981) was an American newspaper reporter who won a Pulitzer Prize for his 1963 series of articles in the St. Petersburg Times exposing the state's "reckless, unchecked spending" on the construction of the Sunshine State Parkway. At his death he was the bureau chief for The New York Times in Trenton, New Jersey, the state capital.
Early life and education
Waldron was born on February 2, 1925 in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana and grew up there. He attended Middle Georgia College, Georgia Institute of Technology and Atlanta Law School, and was awarded his undergraduate degree from Birmingham–Southern College.
Waldron was with the St. Petersburg Times in 1963, when he wrote a series of articles (a total of 150,000 words) as part of the newspaper's coverage of unchecked spending by the Florida Turnpike Authority (FTA). The FTA caused an estimated quadrupling of the cost to taxpayers, from initial estimates of $100 million. Waldron received a tip about excessive spending by FTA Chairman John Hammer, including allegations that he had paid for expensive hotels and meals, and corsages for his secretary, as well as overcharges for a chartered plane.
As part of his efforts to see how much it would take to spend $30 on a meal in 1963 —when two could dine opulently for $15 —Waldron and a colleague went to an expensive Miami restaurant. They ordered Caesar salads, sirloin steaks, desserts and two brandies, and hit their $30 target by paying for the glasses the brandy came in and adding a $5 tip. His coverage earned the newspaper the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 1964, its first Pulitzer. It resulted in changes in the way the state of Florida managed highway construction projects.
Waldron moved to The New York Times in 1966, becoming the paper's bureau chief in Trenton, New Jersey (capital of the state). His final reporting for the paper was about the development of casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey and their relationships with local municipal government, a series that was nominated for a Pulitzer. Arthur Gelb, then deputy managing editor for The Times, recalled that "if Mo Waldron was in town there would be a party somewhere and everybody from the mayor down would be there".
- "Martin O. Waldron is Dead at 56: Reporting led to a Pulitzer Prize". The New York Times. May 28, 1981. Retrieved July 13, 2010.
- "Prizes: Just Doing the Job". TIME, 15 May 1964. Retrieved July 13, 2010.
- Harris, Roy J. Pulitzer's Gold: Behind the Prize for Public Service Journalism". University of Missouri Press, 2007. ISBN 0-8262-1768-0. Page 194.
- "Pulitzer Prizes". Times Publishing Company (publisher of the former St. Petersburg Times). Retrieved July 13, 2010.
- Evans, Dorothy; and Kosharsky, Romaine. "Martin Waldron, reporter whose stories won Pulitzer for Times", St. Petersburg Times, May 28, 1981. Retrieved July 13, 2010.