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Schultz, Connie 1958(?)-

Schultz, Connie 1958(?)-

PERSONAL:

Born c. 1958; daughter of a factory worker and a nurse's aide; married Sherrod Brown (a member of Congress), 2004; children: two children, two stepdaughters. Education: Kent State University, B.A., 1979.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Plain Dealer, 2019 Center St., Ste. 200, Cleveland, OH 44113. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer, journalist, essayist, and columnist. Freelance writer, 1978-93; Plain Dealer, Cleveland, OH, columnist, 1993—.

AWARDS, HONORS:

American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors Award for best short feature, best in Ohio recognition, 1998, for narrative series, "Losing Lisa"; National Headliner Awards Best of Show, Robert F. Kennedy Award for Social Justice Reporting (domestic), journalism awards from Harvard and Columbia universities, and Pulitzer Prize finalist, all 2003, all for narrative series, "The Burden of Innocence"; James Batten Medal, Foundation for the Batten Medal, 2004, for journalistic work; Pulitzer Prize, Scripps-Howard Award, and National Headliners Award, all 2005, all for commentary; American Society of Newspaper Editors finalist for commentary; named best feature writer in Ohio, Associated Press Society of Ohio.

WRITINGS:

Life Happens: And Other Unavoidable Truths, Random House (New York, NY), 2006.

And His Lovely Wife: A Memoir from the Woman beside the Man, Random House (New York, NY), 2007.

Contributor to periodicals, including Cleveland Plain Dealer.

SIDELIGHTS:

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Connie Schultz is a columnist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper. A winner of multiple awards for her commentary and journalism, Schultz worked as a freelance writer for fifteen years before joining the Plain Dealer staff. She readily admits that in her writing she takes a woman's perspective, and she does not try to blunt that approach. "If you saw my column without my name on it, you would still know it's written by a woman," Schultz remarked in a profile by Dave Astor in Editor & Publisher.

Schultz grew up in Ashtabula, Ohio, a working-class city near Cleveland, and was the first in her family to attend college, noted a biographer for Everything Cleveland. Schultz's columns often focus on the underprivileged and the underdog. "I like to use the column for those who need a voice," Schultz stated in a profile on the Batten Medal Web site. "I have no interest in the privileged. They have plenty of people to speak for them."

Schultz's Pulitzer Prize was earned for commentary. She was also a Pulitzer finalist in 2003 for a series titled "The Burden of Innocence," the story of a man wrongly incarcerated for thirteen years for a rape he did not commit, but who continued to suffer the stigma of being an ex-convict long after he was exonerated and released from prison. A narrative series on a dying woman, titled "Losing Lisa," was named the best series in Ohio in 1998. Another prize-winning piece focused on the plight of a coat-check worker who was forced to surrender her tip money to management. As a result of Schultz's reporting, the management of that establishment was embarrassed into changing its policy.

Stuart Warner, Plain Dealer deputy features editor and writing coach, attributes Schultz's success to "enthusiasm, compassion, ability to connect with working-class readers, and willingness to accept writing advice," Astor reported. As reported on the Batten Medal Web site, judges on the Batten Medal panel remarked that "they were impressed with the range of Schultz's work and her ability ‘to make stories of ordinary people significant, meaningful, and touching.’"

Schultz's first book, Life Happens: And Other Unavoidable Truths, is a collection of several pieces from her column and covers both personal subjects, such as marriage, divorce, and single parenthood, and more general themes such as poverty, Ohio's economic woes, and the local impact of the war in Iraq. Booklist reviewer Vanessa Bush praised the pieces as "short but deeply engaging glimpses of everyday life offered by a keen observer." Schultz writes so intimately, wrote Leigh Mihlrad in the Library Journal, that it seems that she is "speaking directly to the reader."

In And His Lovely Wife: A Memoir from the Woman beside the Man, Schultz chronicles her experience as the wife of a candidate for U.S. Senate. In 2004 her husband, Congressman Sherrod Brown, decided to challenge the Republican incumbent, Mike DeWine, in the Senate race. Because she sometimes commented on politics in her column and the Plain Dealer chose not to endorse Brown, Schultz was pressured to take a leave of absence from her job during the campaign. It was a difficult choice; as Schultz explains in the book: "Writing wasn't just what I did, it was who I was…. I couldn't imagine how I would make sense of the world unfolding in front of me if I wasn't writing it down and thinking it through at my computer." Nevertheless, Schultz made the adjustment and focused on playing the role of the candidate's wife, enduring the stresses of the campaign and, in the end, exhilarating in Brown's victory.

Schultz's account of the experience, according to Booklist contributor Vanessa Bush, is a "revealing and amusing look at campaigns from a wife's perspective." A writer for Kirkus Reviews, however, found the book "disappointingly devoid of substance," observing that Schultz exaggerates minor slights and fails to give depth to the characters she describes. But many readers enjoyed And His Lovely Wife. January magazine writer Mary Ward Menke commented that Schultz's voice "is one that needs to be heard" and that "in And His Lovely Wife, Connie Schultz proves beyond all doubt that she's more than just a pretty face." A writer for Publishers Weekly described the book as a "frank and adoring account of standing by her man," while in Library Journal, Joel W. Tscherne commented that the memoir "does an excellent job of articulating the ordeal" of a congressional campaign.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, April 1, 2006, Vanessa Bush, review of Life Happens: And Other Unavoidable Truths, p. 15; July 1, 2007, Vanessa Bush, review of And His Lovely Wife: A Memoir from the Woman beside the Man, p. 11.

Crain's Cleveland Business, May 2, 2005, "Reporters' Notebook; behind the News with Crain's Writers," p. 23.

Editor & Publisher, May 1, 2005, "Pulitzers: Connie Keeps It Real in Cleveland"; May 25, 2007, "Connie Schultz, Pulitzer-winning Columnist, Signs with Creators"; November 8, 2007, "Ohio State to Host Talk by Columnist Connie Schultz."

Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2007, review of And His Lovely Wife.

Library Journal, May 15, 2006, Leigh Mihlrad, review of Life Happens, p. 108; June 15, 2007, Joel W. Tscherne, review of And His Lovely Wife, p. 78.

Publishers Weekly, May 14, 2007, review of And His Lovely Wife, p. 46.

Quill, May, 2005, "Prize-winning Program," p. 4.

ONLINE

Batten Medal Web site,http://www.battenmedal.org/ (April 22, 2004), "Plain Dealer Connie Schultz Wins 2004 Batten Medal."

Everything Cleveland,http://www.cleveland.com/ (February 19, 2008), Connie Schultz profile.

January,http://www.januarymagazine.com/ (February 19, 2008), Mary Ward Menke, "Standing by Her Man."

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