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Gary Younge
Pulitzer urged to revoke New York Times' prize

Just when the New York Times thought things could not get any worse - having lost two senior editors, one star writer and its good name in the recent Jayson Blair scandal - the paper is in danger of having one of its coveted Pulitzer prizes revoked.

This time, however, there will be no question mark hanging over former editor Howell Raines' management style or publisher Arthur Sulzberger's stewardship. For the prize in question dates back to 1932 and the work of Walter Duranty, who was awarded American journalism's most sought-after honour for his reports from the Soviet Union.

Duranty's work is now under review by a Pulitzer subcommittee following complaints that he deliberately ignored the Ukrainian famine of the early 1930s that killed millions.

Members of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA) joined Ukrainians worldwide this year in urging withdrawal of Duranty's award.

Duranty covered the Soviet Union for the Times from 1922 to 1941, earning acclaim for an exclusive 1929 interview with Stalin. But he was eventually exposed for reporting the Communist line rather than the facts. According to the 1990 book Stalin's Apologist, Duranty knew of the famine wrought by collectivisation, but ignored the atrocities to preserve his access to Stalin.

The Times has also distanced itself from Duranty's work. The reporter's 1932 Pulitzer is displayed with this caveat: "Other writers in the Times and elsewhere have discredited this coverage."

Toby Usnik, a Times spokesman, said: "The Times has reported often and thoroughly on the defects in Mr Duranty's journalism as viewed through the lens of later events."

Sig Gissler, administrator of the Pulitzer board, said yesterday: "Like any significant complaint, we take [it] seriously."

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