Manship School of Mass Communication alumna Amy Brittain is part of the Washington Post staff recently recognized with a Pulitzer Prize for “its revelatory initiative in creating and using a national database to illustrate how often and why the police shoot to kill and who the victims are most likely to be.”
“It was an honor to be a part of such a collaborative, newsroom-wide effort to shed light on fatal shootings by police officers across the country,” said Brittain, a native of Shreveport, La. “The end result was a data-driven series that resulted in real change, including a pledge from the FBI to overhaul its system for collecting information on officer-involved shootings.”
Brittain’s main contribution to the Pulitzer Prize-winning project was a piece titled “On Duty, Under Fire,” which is the story of a Wisconsin state trooper gunned down by a bank robber. The trooper was on his first day on the job, and as he was dying, he returned fire and shot and killed the suspect. The story also provides statistics about how many police officers have shot and killed individuals who have already shot someone, brandished a gun or attacked other people.
“I think the series speaks to the importance of true accountability journalism,” Brittain said. “When I was a student at LSU, I really developed a passion for that type of reporting as a reporter for The Daily Reveille.”
Brittain also contributed reporting to a story titled “Different Shooting, Same Police Officer,” which was about the number of police officers who shot and killed someone in 2015 who had previously been involved in a fatal shooting.
“From my first day at LSU, I’ve heard about Amy Brittain and her reputation for being the most dogged reporter on the Reveille,” Manship School of Mass Communication Dean Jerry Ceppos said. “The kind of detail reporting that won this Pulitzer requires dogged work. I’m not the least bit surprised that Amy’s name is forever attached to this Pulitzer.”
Brittain received her bachelor’s degree with a concentration in print journalism from the Manship School in 2009. She worked as a reporter for The Daily Reveille for four years while at LSU. She held internship positions with the International Center for Journalists in Washington, D.C., in 2006; The Christian Science Monitor in Boston in 2007; The Arizona Republic in Phoenix in 2008; and MLB.com in San Diego in 2009.
In 2010, Brittain received a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University, where she studied at the Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism. After graduating from Columbia, she began her first full-time job as a reporter with The Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J. Her series, “Strong at Any Cost,” which detailed the use of anabolic steroids and human growth hormone by hundreds of New Jersey police officers and firefighters, won the 2010 George Polk Award for Metropolitan Reporting.
Brittain joined The Washington Post in 2013 as an investigative reporter. While at The Washington Post, she has covered a range of topics, including deaths of children in unregulated daycares, the Ebola epidemic in West Africa – during a two week reporting trip to Guinea – and the circumstances of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death.