Michel Du Cille Speaks at Schuneman Symposium
By Chelsea Amato
On Tuesday, February 26, Michel Du Cille was one of the six speakers that spoke at the Schuneman Symposium, which was hosted to celebrate the E.W Scripps Schools’ 90th birthday. Michel du Cille is an associate editor at the The Washington Post. Born in Jamaica, he began his career in photojournalism while in high school working at The Gainesville (Ga.) Times. Du Cille became a member of the Miami Herald’s photography staff in 1981 after internships at the Louisville Courier Journal/Times in 1979 and The Miami Herald in 1980. He received a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Indiana University School of Journalism and holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University.
As an introduction, Du Cille began the presentation humbly talking about his work and his different projects that won him three Pulitzer Prizes. One of the things that stood out most about his presentation was that he did not want to boast about his work. Instead, he wanted to introduce it to give the audience some insight into his life but did not want to come off like he was bragging. Du Cille shared his first Pulitzer Prize, in spot news photography, with fellow Miami Herald staff photographer Carol Guzy on coverage of the November 1985 eruption of Colombia’s Nevado Del Ruiz volcano, which caused a massive mudslide killing an estimated 25,000 people. In 1988, he was awarded a second Pulitzer, in feature photography, for his photo essay on crack cocaine addicts in a Miami housing project. He went into detail with the audience about how he wanted to portray how it was not just one specific race that was involved in the crack cocaine outbreak in Miami, Florida, but people of all nationalities were having their lives ruined by this drug and the lifestyle they were caught up in. He said he would spend about two to three days at a time taking on location taking the photos, then he would spend the following day or two composing his work, he would do this until he felt his piece was finished. Du Cille won his third Pulitzer Prize in April 2008; where he shared the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service with writers Anne Hull and Dana Priest of The Washington Post. The series exposed mistreatment of wounded veterans in the Army including at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The work evoked a national outcry, producing reforms by federal officials.
After introducing his powerful and breathtaking work to the audience, he began to talk about how “media is always changing.” One of the most powerful quotes of the presentation from Du Cille was when he told the audience, “Newspapers aren’t dying! They are adapting.” As an employee at The Washington Post, he discussed how the newspapers and media outlets are just experiencing too much change in a short amount of time. As technology becomes more advanced by the day, media outlets are having trouble keeping up with the high demand.
Du Cille reassured the audience, “I don’t think the print newspaper is ever going to completely go away.” He ended the presentation by advising the audience, “We have to go back to basics, that is what its all about.” In addition to going back to basics, Du Cille stressed that we have to tell the truth, check the facts and make sure we are accurate and fair. The presentation was extremely uplifting and rewarding. It was an amazing experience for everyone involved in celebrating the 90th birthday of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and the fifth annual Schuneman Symposium.