Philp, Tom 1962(?)–
Philp, Tom 1962(?)–
PERSONAL: Born c. 1962; son of Nell Farr; married Lisa Lapin (a college assistant vice chancellor); children: Max, Charlotte. Education: Northwestern University, Medill School of Journalism, B.S.J., 1983.
ADDRESSES: Home—Carmichael, CA. Office—Sacramento Bee, 2100 Q. St., Sacramento, CA 95816. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Writer, journalist, and editorial writer. San Jose Mercury News, journalist, 1983–92; Sacramento Bee, reporter and staff writer, 1992–97, associate editor and editorial board member, 1997–.
AWARDS, HONORS: Best of the West first-place award for deadline writing, 1992; American Association of University Professors prize, 1994; California Newspaper Publishers Association Better Newspapers first-place award for editorial comment, 2000; Harold Gilliam Award for Excellence in Environmental Reporting, Bay Institute of San Francisco, 2001; Walker Stone Award, Scripps Howard Foundation, Sigma Delta Chi Award, and National Headliner Award for Editorial Writing, all 2004, all for editorials on questionable spending in California water districts; Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing, 2005, for editorials on reclaiming California's Hetch Hetchy Valley.
SIDELIGHTS: California-based journalist Tom Philp is a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial writer for the Sacramento Bee. A winner of numerous other awards, Philp has been a journalist since graduating from Northwestern University's prestigious Medill School of Journalism in 1983. As an associate editor and member of the editorial board of the Sacramento Bee, Philp writes editorials, columns, and articles for the paper's Sunday Forum section. He concentrates on topics such as agriculture, forestry, energy use, regional planning, health care, and telecommunications. Of great concern to Philp are issues related to water use and conservation in California. "I've loved water issues ever since I got out of Medill and got a job at the San Jose Mercury News when Silicon Valley was just starting it's growth," Philp commented in a profile by Belinda Lichty Clarke on the Medill School of Journalism Web site. "Living in California, water and water supplies are constantly at issue and you've got a long history, science and politics all playing a role." Among many other pieces, these concerns prompted a multiple-award-winning series on corruption, poor business practices, and questionable spending in a number of California's water districts.
Philp's interest in water issues led him to journalism's top award. His Pulitzer Prize-winning editorials focus on the possibility of restoring the Hetch Hetchy reservoir, created from flooding the Hetch Hetchy Valley in the early 1920s. Intended as a water supply source for San Francisco, the reservoir has often been superfluous, as other sources sufficiently supply San Francisco's water needs. Conservationists have suggested the draining of the reservoir and the restoration of the valley, but until Philp's well-received editorials, the notion was routinely dismissed. Philp's work, based in large part on an environmental modeling program developed at the University of California, Davis and on the work of graduate student Sarah Null, outlines scientific evidence that draining the reservoir and restoring the valley would not adversely affect water supplies. Instead, doing so would recover a piece of California's natural history directly connected to Yosemite National Park, and also create the benefits of another recreational area and source of natural resources. The water supply in Hetch Hetchy would be held in other reservoirs downstream.
As a result of his editorials, tangible steps have been taken to analyze the possibility of restoring Hetch Hetchy. The California State Assembly contacted the governor's office, asking for further action on the issue, and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger responded with the intent to pursue a "full-scale study of the feasibility of the restoration."
In response to his Pulitzer win, Philp remarked to Keli Senkevich in California Aggie: "It's a responsibility I have to live up to with every editorial I write. Everything I say has to sound worthy of this honor."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
California Aggie, June 8, 2005, Keli Senkevich, "Pulitzer-Winning Editor Tom Philp Credits UC Davis Research for Award; Computer Model Demonstrates Possibility of Restoring Hetch Hetchy"; Keli Senkevich, "Question & Answer with Pulitzer Prize Winner Tom Philp; SacBee Editor Wins Prize with Help of UCD Study on Hetch Hetchy."
Editor & Publisher, May 1, 2005, Graham Webster, "Pulitzers: At the Bee, More Hell-Raising Ahead."
Quill, June-July, 2004, "Award Winner: Editorial Writing," p. 46.
Sacramento Bee, April 5, 2005, Sam Stanton, "Bee's Philp Wins Editorial-Writing Pulitzer."
McClatchy Company Web site, http://www.mcclatchy.com/ (July 9, 2005), profile of Tom Philp.
Medill School of Journalism Web site, http://www.medill.northwestern.edu/ (July 9, 2005), Belinda Lichty Clarke, "Medill Alum Tom Philp Wins 2005 Pulitzer for Editorial Writing."