QandA with Pulitzer Prize winner Colleen McCain Nelson

Colleen McCain Nelson, a 1996 KU graduate, won a Pulitzer for her editorial writings. McCain Collins was a former editor of The Kansan.

Colleen McCain Nelson, a 1996 KU graduate and editor of The University Daily Kansan in 1995, won a Pulitzer Prize Monday for her editorial writing at the Dallas Morning News. McCain Nelson and two of her colleagues won the Pulitzer for their editorials on the social and economic disparities between Dallas' northern and southern halves.

What does this award mean to you?

Professionally, it's such great validation that what you do matters and that what you do makes a little bit of a difference. It motivates you to do more and to do better. It suggests that we've hit on something good and should keep going. I never anticipated it. It's just been a thrill beyond words. I've had a really tough year personally with my husband being hit by a car and being in the hospital for a long time. I was trying to juggle getting my husband to his doctor appointments and rehabilitation along with writing the editorials, so it's amazing to be honored like this.

How did your experience at KU and the Kansan affect your career?

It's the training ground; it's where you learn how to pursue stories. I was the editorial page editor my sophomore year and had a great experience with that. There's no way I'd be where I am right now without training at the Kansan.

Your husband was also a graduate from the University and the William Allen White School of Journalism. How else is KU still involved in your life?

We actually didn't meet at Kansas. He was actually the Kansan editor four years ahead of me. We ended up crossing paths later in life. He's a Jayhawk; our dog is Phog; and we love Lawrence in so many ways. We have season b-ball tickets and fly back for games whenever we can. It's kind of our happy place.

How has journalism changed in the last 15 years, since you were the editor of the Kansan?

We did not have an online edition when I was there. Being a journalist has changed so much since I was at the Kansan. We didn't have cell phones. When you were a reporter at the Kansan, you had to sit at the desk or you'd miss a source calling you. There was definitely an added degree of difficulty. There has been this amazing fast-forward change since I've been at the Kansan.

Have you always had a passion for covering politics?

It was something I had always wanted to do even when I was at KU. At the Kansan I begged to cover any elected official that came to campus. When I was at KU I thought I might actually go to law school, but I fell in love with covering it while I was at the Kansan.

What are your future plans?

I want to stay in Dallas and I'm even more motivated to keep writing about these neighborhoods and the help they need. We feel like we're just about the beginning of the process.

Edited by Kirsten Hudson

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