Pulitzer Prize winner Bryan Gruley ‘75 returned to Catholic Central April 12 to speak with students interested in writing and journalism as part of Catholic Central’s DRIVE Development Day series.
Gruley worked for The Wall Street Journal for over 15 years, including seven years as the Chicago bureau chief. His shared coverage of the September 11 World Trade Center attack won him a Pulitzer Price for the staff’s “comprehensive and insightful coverage, executed under the most difficult circumstances, of the terrorist attack on New York City, which recounted the day's events and their implications for the future”.
“It was a sobering but great honor to be honored for writing about that day,” Gruley told students as he recounted his emotional story of reporting from the D.C. office of The Wall Street Journal September 11.
“I think of my New York colleagues, who were going to do what they had to do, which was tell the world what happened. They were right in the middle, risking their lives,” Gruley said.
Gruley also recounted an experience early into his journalism career while at The Detroit News, where persistence and strong character led to a lucky sit-down with American businessman and self-made millionaire Coastal Corporation Founder Oscar Wyatt.
“Whatever your interaction is with people, if you can make them laugh, they’re going to be your friend. They’re going to help you,” he said.
One hockey joke was all it took for Gruley to gain Wyatt’s attention. A couple weeks later, Gruley received a phone call from Wyatt, letting him know he was returning to Houston. Suddenly, Gruley was the first journalist in the world to know Coastal Corporation had locked a deal with A&R in their hostile takeover.
“The next morning, we were the only ones in the world who reported that. We beat The Wall Street Journal. We beat The New York Times. We beat AP, we beat everybody. It was a big scoop. That moment propelled me into the rest of my career. Why? Because I wasn’t afraid to walk in and say ‘I would like an interview with Oscar Wyatt’”.
Gruley is also the author of several novels, including the Starvation Lake trilogy and Purgatory Bay. His advice to students?
“You are your own person. Your time here isn’t going to be very long. Do something you love to do, and that love will translate. If you’re doing things you love to do, other people will notice.”
The Catholic Central DRIVE Development Day series brings professional learning opportunities to students across grade levels to hone their leadership skills and gain real-world experience.