Oregon High School alum part of team that wins Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting
By Shaw Local News Network
OREGON —Oregon High School 2012 alum Eli Murray was among the team that won a Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting, journalism’s most prestigious award.
In their series “Poisoned,” Murray and colleagues Corey G. Johnson and Rebecca Woolington told the story of a lead smelter in Tampa that endangered its workers and polluted the community.
The investigation, published by the Tampa Bay Times, prompted federal and county regulators to probe the smelter and confirm the newspaper’s findings.
After attending Oregon High School, Murray received an associate degree from Sauk Valley Community College and then his bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Illinois.
Murray began working at the Tampa Bay Times in 2015 and is an investigative reporter who specializes in working with data, using code to scrape records, crunch numbers, and create custom visualizations.
Murray credits several of his teachers at OHS as early influences in his career.
Cheryl Bunton, the art teacher, taught him how to convey messages visually. His math teacher, Danyel Larsen, taught him to break down formulas into their logical components.
“Because of that approach, I came to see math as solving logic puzzles and enjoyed it,” said Murray.
He uses that skill when coding and running data analyses.
Murray said the English program at OHS most influenced him to be a writer. Teachers like John Zuber and Aaron Sitze encouraged students to thoroughly examine and engage with the work.
His senior English teacher, John Young, first encouraged Murray to pursue journalism.
“He impressed on me the importance of seeking truth and being informed about the world around me, which ultimately led me to pursue journalism when I went to the University of Illinois,” Murray said.
Murray expressed gratitude for the education he received at OHS, noting the recent achievement of Kimberly Radostits, named 2022 Illinois Teacher of the Year, as evidence of “the caliber of education students receive at OHS.”