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Monday, October 30, 2017

Validating life through writing

“You are validating someone's life by telling their story. Even if it's a sad one.” – Alex Tizon

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Alex Tizon, who died suddenly this year of natural causes, is the author of "Crossing America – Dispatches From a New Nation,” written as he and Seattle Times photographer Alan Berner drove to NYC’s Ground Zero, stopping to interview, photograph and write about ordinary Americans and how the 9/11 bombing changed their lives and the communities in which they lived.   The trip followed on the heels of his 5-part series about fraud and mismanagement in the Federal Indian Housing Program, for which he and 2 Seattle Times colleagues won the Pulitzer for Investigative Reporting.

Born in Manila, The Philippines on this date in 1959, Tizon immigrated with his family in 1964.  Despite growing up in hardship and adversity, he earned degrees from Oregon and Stanford and became a leading journalist.          He also was a much sought after essayist by major publications across America.  His final story – published in The Atlantic after his death – was the controversial piece “My Family’s Slave” about a Filipina peasant woman.   Both denounced and lauded, it may earn him yet another major writing award posthumously.

As a reporter, Tizon sought out and wrote with empathy about people and places often overlooked and generally dismissed, leaving his readers with thoughtful and thought-provoking tales.  “Messages hidden in the thickets of a story are the ones that burrow deepest,” he said,  “because most of us don't realize that any burrowing is going on at all.”

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