Journalism wasn’t Jacqui Banaszynski’s first career choice.
She had aspirations to be an athlete, but grew up before Title IX gave girls equal access to the field.
She dreamed of being a commercial airline pilot or astronaut, but was handicapped by height and gender.
She probably should have been an architect, but in her rural school district in the 1960s, girls weren’t allowed into shop class where she would have learned drafting.
So she joined the high school newspaper staff, got the keys to the school car … and the rest is history.
It turned out OK.
Jacqui spent the next 30 years as a reporter and editor for newspapers in the Upper Midwest and Pacific Northwest. She has filed stories from all seven continents, including Antarctica. She has covered beauty pageants and popes, AIDS and the Olympics, dogsled expeditions and refugee camps — not to mention a constant run of planning commission and sewer board meetings. She came of age in the modern women’s movement, covered some of its crucible events and benefited from the battles fought on behalf of women everywhere.
She won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize in feature writing for an intimate series on a gay farm couple dying of AIDS, and was a finalist for the 1986 Pulitzer Prize in international reporting for her on-the-ground coverage of the famine in sub-Saharan Africa. She won the Associated Press Sports Editors’ deadline reporting award for coverage of Greco-Roman wrestling at the 1988 Olympics and has edited several award-winning projects, including winners of ASNE Best Newspaper Writing, Ernie Pyle Human Interest Writing and national business, health, social issues and investigative prizes.
She now is a Knight Chair professor at the Missouri School of Journalism and an editing fellow at the Poynter Institute. She coaches reporters, writers and editors around the world. She remains loyal to the Green Bay Packers, hikes along Lake Superior and the high Cascades, believes in the healing powers of gardening and listening, and is always on the lookout for a good story.
Read her work on her website where she writes about journalism, craft and life.
Watch Jacqui’s speech on listening and interviewing from 2014.
Watch Jacqui’s speech on the power of stories to reach people from 2013.