Washington Post reporter Joby Warrick, was awarded the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction for his book, "Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS". This is Warrick's second Pulitzer Prize.
Warrick graduated from Temple in 1982 with a degree in journalism.
"It's an incredible honor for any journalist to be awarded a Pulitzer, and for it to happen twice is beyond thrilling," he said. "I won't be coming down from this one for a long time!"
His book is an investigation on the origins of ISIS through the life of its founder, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and his legacy. He discussed his book with SMC students, faculty, and staff last March as part of the Office of Research and Graduate Studies Speaker Series.
"Black Flags" is his second book on the topic. His first book, "The Triple Agent: The Al-Qaeda Mole Who Infiltrated the CIA", also makes mention of Zarqawi. "I've always been fascinated by him as a terrorist leader," Warrick said.
When reporting on the Arab Spring uprising for the Washington Post, he got his chance to re-examine Zarqawi. "In Syria in particular, you saw what was sort of elements of the Zarqawi movement coming back," he said.
These coinciding events prompted him to write the book. "I was interested in Zarqawi's story, but I was also interested in what was happening in the aftermath of Arab Spring, and it was sort of a combination of two events that brought this together," Warrick said.
After he graduated from Temple, Warrick worked as a freelance correspondent at The Philadelphia Inquirer for a couple of years.
Arlene Notoro Morgan, now Assistant Dean for external affairs at SMC, was a hiring editor at The Inquirer during that time.
"I always thought he was fearless and tenacious in terms of the stories he wanted to tackle," she said. "I think he would be the first to credit the critical thinking and grit he developed at Temple in the journalism program."
His former editor at The Inquirer, Paul Jablow, also speaks highly of Warrick. "I may have been Joby's first post-Temple editor. He could tell you that," Jablow said. "He was just a natural, great reporting instincts for someone that young, boundless enthusiasm. You knew he'd succeed."
SMC Dean David Boardman said Warrick's work speaks to the caliber of Temple graduates.
"Aligned with the kinds of people who come to and graduate from Temple, we have alums of tremendous accomplishment across all the fields of media," he said. "Joby, he really stands out as one of our most outstanding grads."
Warrick received his first Pulitzer Prize in public service alongside two reporters from The News and Observer in 1996 for their work on the environmental impacts of the hog-farming industry in North Carolina.
He said storytelling is an important aspect of his job. "That's always one of my biggest tasks, how to tell this as a story," he said. "Who the characters are, how I develop those characters and how I make them meaningful."
And book-length projects helped him to become a better storyteller. "The ultimate challenge is to be able to hold a story together over not 5,000 or 20,000 words, but 100,000 words," he said.
He said journalism students looking to get a job in the field should follow their dreams.
"Don't be discouraged by everything you hear about the situation in the industry," he said. "It was pretty dire in the 80s when we were coming out of college, it was a pretty difficult time to get a job as a journalist."
Warrick urges students not to give up and to have a clear vision of the path they want for their career.
"Persistence, talent, hard work and not letting yourself stop trying are all crucial attributes when you're looking for a job," he said.