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True or False: Medford Mail Tribune was the first Oregon newspaper to win a Pulitzer

Photo by Tom Adams

TRUE. The Medford Mail Tribune won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service Journalism in 1934 for "the most disinterested and meritorious public service rendered by any American newspaper during the year," according to Pulitzer.org.

The Oregonian has won multiple Pulitzer prizes, and Willamette Week won in 2005 for investigate reporting.

But the 1934 prize was the first awarded to an Oregon news organization.

The honor recognized a series of editorials written by editor and publisher Robert Ruhl (1880-1967) condemning what later came to be known as the Jackson County Rebellion.

"The Mail Tribune consistently condemned the character-assassination methods of the movement and urged calm and rational behavior by citizens. As a result, it suffered financially," according to the Oregon Encyclopedia. "Although it likely can never be determined, it is possible that the 1934 Pulitzer Prize, with its resulting national stories about the Jackson County Rebellion, influenced Sinclair Lewis's 1934-35 novel 'It Can't Happen Here', the story of a fascist takeover of the United States, in which a small-town western newspaper editor plays a heroic role."

DID YOU KNOW? The Ruhl Lecture at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communications is named in honor of Robert Ruhl.

COMING UP: Tom Adams reports #LiveOnKVAL Monday, February 22, at 5 p.m. on a new book on the Jackson County Rebellion by a local author called "Rebellion, Murder and the Pulitzer Prize".

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Beaver State! President James Buchanan signed the bill admitting Oregon to the Union as the 33rd state on Feb. 14, 1859.

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