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A Report on the Border Wall Won This 23-Year-Old Writer a Pulitzer Prize


In 2018, Ardsley native Jill Castellano co-won a Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for a special report titled The Wall: Unknown Stories, Unintended Consequences, about the US-Mexico border. That’s not the crazy part. The crazy part is that she was only 23 years old at the time. We caught up with this young hotshot recently, to find out how it feels to win such a prestigious accolade.


What was it like to have worked on a Pulitzer Prize-winning project at such a young age?

It’s pretty surreal. So many people work so hard, and it’s something that you never think you’re going to be a part of. It was truly an amazing experience.


How do you think you have been enriched by having worked on this project?

I hadn’t realized how many people are crossing the border and how many people are dying. Through this project, I was able to share that with other people. [Few people] really know this, because the numbers the government provides are so low as compared to what’s actually happening.


What should people know about your project?

I think the coolest thing is that it uses every storytelling technique possible to tell you everything you should know about the US-Mexico border. If you’re curious about why we’re building a border wall, and what it could possibly do, this is a great place to get started.


What does this experience mean to you in retrospect?

I feel we’re touching on something that people need to understand and that we were giving them information they don’t have, to help them be informed in a way they weren’t before on this important topic. This is a story that needed to be told.


What are you up to these days?

I work at inewsource in San Diego. It’s a small nonprofit investigative newsroom, and I’m an investigative reporter specializing in data analysis. My most recent series is about researchers at the San Diego Veterans Administration who took samples from sick veterans’ livers without their consent.


To read The Wall: Unknown Stories, Unintended Consequences, visit www.usatoday.com/border-wall.


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