Free Press columnist wins Pulitzer for commentary

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DETROIT (AP) — Detroit Free Press columnist Stephen Henderson has been awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his commentary on the city's financial crisis, it was announced Monday.

The Pulitzers are given out each year by Columbia University in New York on the recommendation of a board of journalists and others.

In their announcement of the award for commentary, prize organizers said that the Detroit native's columns on Detroit's bankruptcy were "written with passion and a stirring sense of place, sparing no one in their critique."

The city of 700,000 is operating under a state-appointed emergency manager and struggling to provide some basic services as it goes through federal bankruptcy proceedings to reduce $18 billion in debt. Detroit has lost 1.1 million residents since the 1950s and much of its tax base.

In a column last Wednesday, Henderson took a swipe at creditors' efforts to put Detroit's art collection on the bargaining table.

"The buzzards keep rearing their heads in Detroit's bankruptcy proceedings," he began.

Henderson accused the Financial Guaranty Insurance Co., which was involved in risky credit swaps that created hundreds of millions of dollars in municipal debt of "holding its own make-believe lawn sale for the collection at the Detroit Institute of Arts."

The art, he concluded, "ought to stay exactly where it is, in the museum that collected it for the people of this city."

Henderson is a graduate of University of Detroit High School and the University of Michigan.

He has worked as a reporter, editorial writer and editor for the Free Press, the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader, Chicago Tribune and Baltimore Sun. He spent four years covering the U.S. Supreme Court for the Knight Ridder Washington bureau.

The Free Press has won 10th Pulitzer Prize, including a 2009 award for its coverage of the scandals that sent Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to prison.

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