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In praise of our own Adam Zyglis, who won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning

Almost 11 years ago, The Buffalo News hired Adam Zyglis straight out of college to replace the great Tom Toles, The News’ longtime editorial cartoonist. Toles had won a Pulitzer Prize and was leaving to succeed Herblock at the Washington Post.

Talk about pressure.

This week, Zyglis reached journalism’s pinnacle. He was awarded the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning.

Zyglis is ours. He grew up in Alden, went to Canisius College and was a News intern in summer 2004 before being hired full time at The News. Drawing has been a passion since he was 6 years old. He was a math and computer science major at Canisius, but his 70-page thesis was about editorial cartooning. In the eighth grade, he placed second in The Buffalo News Editorial Cartoon Contest – and had his first cartoon published in The News. Among the other contest perks: A visit to the newsroom and a chance to meet Toles, who in the eyes of a kid “was the size of a tree.”

Being from here adds a measure of responsibility for an editorial cartoonist. I once had a phone call from someone who thought Zyglis always portrayed him in a unflattering light. Said the unhappy caller: “And his mother is so nice.”

Remarkably, Zyglis is the third News cartoonist to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize. Bruce Shanks received a Pulitzer in 1958 and Toles in 1990. The News’ other Pulitzer: In 1961, Buffalo Evening News reporter Edgar May was awarded the prize for local reporting “for his series of articles on New York State’s public welfare services,” according to the Pulitzer website.

To view all of Zyglis’ cartoons, going back to his eight-grade contest winner, go to buffalonews.com/zyglis.

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The News was also a Pulitzer finalist last week for our coverage of the November 2014 “Wall of Snow” storm. Over six days, The News staff tweeted, posted to Facebook, posted to the Web and filed to the newspaper more than a thousand written news items. Nearly 800 photos were posted. The newspaper had 62 pages of coverage.

Even in Buffalo, where big snow is part of life, the storm was a monster. It was a freak lake-effect storm that dumped 7 feet of snow on the southern part of the city and nearby suburbs but left downtown and the northern suburbs almost untouched. Thirteen people died in the storm. Hundreds were trapped in trucks and cars on the New York State Thruway and on local streets. It caused an estimated $49 million in damage. We rated it the second-worst storm in Western New York’s recorded history.

The News staff knocked itself out to cover the storm. It is nice to get national recognition.

The storm also taught us an important lesson: We are investing in snow shoes for reporters and photographers.

email: editor@buffnews.com

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