Please join us in congratulating Melinda Henneberger , a columnist and member of the Editorial Board for the Kansas City Star, for winning the Pulitzer Prize in the commentary category! Henneberger received this prestigious honor for her “columns that demanded justice for alleged victims of former Kansas City, Kansas, detective Roger Golubski, who is accused of extorting Black women for sexual favors, [and] using them to fabricate evidence in cases he was handling.”
Centurion client Lamonte McIntyre was framed by Golubski and lost 22 years of his life as he was wrongfully incarcerated as a result of the former detective’s despicable tactics. We are truly grateful for Ms. Henneberger’s outstanding coverage and courageous pursuit of justice.
Melinda Henneberger, a member of The Star’s editorial board for the past five years, on Monday was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, journalism’s most prestigious honor.
She was honored in the commentary category for columns that demanded justice for alleged victims of former Kansas City, Kansas, detective Roger Golubski, who is accused of extorting Black women for sexual favors, sometimes using them to fabricate evidence in cases he was handling.
“I’m so overwhelmed I really don’t know what to say except that this is extremely humbling and, as I may have mentioned a few hundred times before, that it’s past time for the FBI to show up with some handcuffs,” Henneberger said. “If this brings some measure of justice to Roger Golubski’s victims at long last, then that will be the best award.”
“Melinda understands the crucial role that deep reporting plays in impactful opinion journalism,” said Kristin Roberts, chief content officer at McClatchy, the parent company of The Star. “She is a clear and powerful writer whose work tells the stories of people ignored or forgotten — and in doing so she delivers on the highest mission of journalism: Service to our community.”
Mike Fannin, The Star’s president and editor, called Henneberger a “rare talent” who has proven over the last five years that she is one of the best columnists in the country.
“She not only brings skills of an investigative reporter but also a deep compassion for the subjects she writes about,” Fannin said.
Also nominated as finalists were Julian Aguon, a freelance contributor to The Atlantic magazine, for an essay on climate change, and Zeynep Tufekci for columns on the pandemic and American culture published in The New York Times and The Atlantic.
The award marked the ninth time The Star has won a Pulitzer Prize, dating back to 1931 and including the 1982 award for local, general or spot news reporting for its coverage of the Hyatt skywalk collapse and identification of its causes.
In 1992, Jeff Taylor and Mike McGraw won the award for national reporting for their critical examination of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The Star has now been recognized in journalism’s top competition for five straight years, beginning in 2018 with “Why so secret, Kansas?” a finalist for the public service award.
That series was surpassed only by The New York Times and The New Yorker magazine, which shared the public service award for their combined body of work on Miramax film producer Harvey Weinstein and workplace sexual harassment that ignited the #MeToo movement.
Henneberger, who was named vice president and opinion editor for The Star in early 2021, started Monday at McClatchy’s sister newspaper, The Sacramento Bee in California, where she will continue to write columns.
For her columns, Henneberger interviewed women who said they were raped by Golubski. She detailed decades of alleged misconduct, abuse and manipulation.
The Kansas Bureau of Investigation started its own investigation in 2019 and the next year said it had shared with authorities information about “possible federal violations.” In court records, Golubski has denied the allegations against him
McClatchy opinion editor Peter St. Onge said he was thrilled for Henneberger and called her columns on Golubski “deeply reported and powerfully told.”
“They — and Melinda — represent opinion journalism at its best,” he said.
Last month, Henneberger was named the winner of the national Mike Royko Award for Commentary and Column Writing in the News Leaders Association Awards, an award she also won three years earlier.
In 2018, she won the Scripps Howard Walker Stone Award for opinion writing for “a portfolio of work that is a revealing look at the people and political issues driving conversations in the heartland.”
Before coming to The Star, Henneberger worked for the Dallas Morning News, New York Newsday, The Washington Post and The New York Times, where she was a reporter for 10 years in New York, Washington and Rome. She also was a fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy.