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Pardon my tears. There’s much joyful blubbering and hugging and head-shaking going in the Press Democrat newsroom with the announcement that our firestorm coverage won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news.

The reporters, photographers and editors here on the second floor at 427 Mendocino Ave. know how hard they worked to cover the vastness and horror of the October fires, and the valor and humanity. Though the PD has received some very significant awards for its fire stories and photos, the news staff seemed to consider a Pulitzer, American journalism’s highest honor, a long shot.

And yet, we won.

What a grand and awesome acknowledgment it is of how this regional, suburban daily newspaper aspires, and of the extraordinary heart and character of the community it covers.

It’s no secret that this is a tough time for newspapers, as many of their staffs and editions grow slimmer and they struggle to do more with less. And no one has to be told that just now is a hugely difficult time for our region, as we mourn and as thousands who lost their homes confront the personal impacts of catastrophe and the uncertainly of whether they’ll be able to rebuild or even to continue living here.

This Pulitzer honors all of us. It wasn’t the prize for literature. The PD staff didn’t conjure up the stories and images of terror and tragedy and courage and selflessness and resiliency in Sonoma County and beyond, but found and dug out and shared them.

This breathtaking honor confirms what it is that everyone at this newspaper endeavors to do every day. We know there are people who think we make stuff up and intentionally play favorites, twist the truth.

We’re human, goodness knows, and we do make mistakes. But the people in the PD newsroom aim high, and they’re passionate about serving this community through news coverage that’s as complete and accurate and reliable as possible.

The Pulitzer judges pored over breaking news stories published in papers across the country, including the Houston Chronicle’s coverage of Hurricane Harvey and the New York Times’ coverage of the mass shooting in Las Vegas. And the judges decided our newsroom’s work on a massive and complex story was the best.

Pardon our tears.

...

AFTER THE INFERNOS, “Pasta King” Art Ibleto fired up his pots and fed, for free, elderly evacuees, shelter volunteers and first responders.

The other day, the North Bay’s representatives in the state Legislature had Art over to Sacramento to thank him for that and for his decades of serving his food at no cost at community benefits for families struck by tragedy and for people recovering from hurricanes, earthquakes and other disasters nearby and around the world.

“Art has always given back,” Sen. Mike McGuire said at the ceremony on the Senate floor that awarded Art a resolution of thanks from both houses of the Legislature.

“He has made his hometown, his country and our state stronger through his generous spirit, his love of community and his love of people.”

The Pasta King beamed, his one regret being that it wasn’t practical just then for him to treat the Senate and Assembly to his polenta.

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