Mr Michael Vitez
Staff Writer, The Philadelphia Inquirer
Michael Vitez is best known as the winner of the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism for a series of stories, called Final Choices, for The Philadelphia Inquirer. He followed five people as they approached the ends of their lives, and he wrote powerful, intimate narratives about the decisions they made, the choices they faced. These were deeply moving personal stories, but also explained the dramatic changes underway in American society regarding how people die.
The most felicitous and celebrated accomplishment of late is his new book, Rocky Stories: Tales of Love, Hope and Happiness at America's Most Famous Steps, published in November of 2006 by Paul Dry Books of Philadelphia. He wrote the book and his colleague Tom Gralish, a photographer, friend and Pulitzer Prize winner himself, took most of the photographs. They spent a year at the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, interviewing and photographing people from all over the nation and the world who came to run those steps like Sylvester Stallone in the 30-year old Academy Award winning film, Rocky.
Vitez has been a staff writer at The Philadelphia Inquirer since 1985, and he specializes in telling wonderful stories about people. His mission has always been to celebrate life, to tell stories that affirm, inspire and entertain. He has been all over America and several places in the world for the Inquirer.
Vitez spent one year at the University of Michigan as a Michigan Journalsim Fellow. He has taught writing for several semesters at The University of Pennsylvania, and for one semester as a Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton. He has lectured and given talks about writing and storytelling at Poynter Institute workshops, in newsrooms and classrooms around the region, and to many community groups. His philosophy is: "In a world overrun with facts, information, websites, cable channels, press releases and noise, I believe the best way to reach people is through stories. Stories unite us, nourish us, and are the best way to communicate."