WSJ’s Clare Ansberry Wins Darrell Sifford Memorial Prize

Contest Honors Missouri Journalism Alumnus

By Rebecca Judge

Columbia, Mo. (March 3, 2006) — Clare Ansberry of The Wall Street Journal is the latest winner of the Darrell Sifford Memorial Prize in Journalism. She serves as the Journal’s Pittsburgh bureau chief and is a seasoned feature writer.

Clare Ansberry
Clare Ansberry

The prize, administered by the Missouri School of Journalism, honors Darrell Sifford, BJ ’53. Sifford’s insightful and inspirational columns in The Philadelphia (Pa.) Inquirer touched readers in such an intimate way that his accidental death in 1992 hit thousands as if they had lost a close relative. Colleagues described Sifford as “a rarity in American journalism, a columnist with the heart of a poet.” Readers started the fund to honor and encourage newspaper writing that depicts the personal struggles and triumphs that together make up the fabric of everyday lives. Winners receive a $1,000 prize.

Ansberry’s winning articles, including “Uneven Care,” “Frayed Lifeline” and “The Tender Trap,” highlight the challenges of aging parents caring for a disabled child.In selecting Ansberry’s articles, the Sifford prize judges noted, “It’s hard for many people to imagine how they would meet the challenges of caring for a disabled child. For those who have risen to that challenge, it’s hard to imagine what will happen when they are no longer alive to do it. Clare Ansberry’s series about these two vulnerable and intertwined populations – disabled people and their aging parents – is poignant, occasionally disheartening, but always compassionate.

“She brings us into the small apartment of the Tullis men, an 84-year-old father and his 49-year-old autistic son; into the group home where the needs of three developmentally disabled adults are tended to by one woman who is paid just $25,000 a year; into a trailer in rural Ohio where a 74-year-old woman cares for three disabled children. These people are holding things together for now. But as Ansberry’s series makes clear, the safety net to catch them when they can’t hold it together anymore is frayed and sagging and full of holes,” the judges wrote.

Wall Street Journal Managing Editor Paul Steiger began his comments with a question asked in Ansberry’s series: “Pretty soon, you know, I won’t be around for him to come home to,” 84-year-old Donald Tullis told Wall Street Journal Reporter Clare Ansberry. Mr. Tullis was referring to his 49-year-old autistic son, who could not tie his own shoes, shave or bathe himself. Who would take care of Tim when he was gone?

Steiger said, “It is a question, Ms. Ansberry found, that haunts a generation of parents who have been consumed with caring for their needy children. Now in their 60s, 70s and 80s, they have reached a point when they can no longer care for the children. In spite of considerable media coverage about the aging, the plight of these people has been largely overlooked. Ms. Ansberry, the Journal’s Pittsburgh bureau chief and a seasoned feature writer, spotlighted the problem in a series of stories that portrayed the heroic efforts of two of the nation’s most vulnerable populations – the aging and the disabled – struggling in concert.”

Ansberry is the author of The Woman of Troy, published in 2000. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and two children.

For more information about the Sifford Prize, contact Kent Collins, contest director.

Rebecca Judge, of St. Louis, is a senior in the broadcast news sequence. She works in the sales department at KOMU, where she assists account executives with creating commercial spots and sales presentations for current and prospective clients. Judge plans to focus her knowledge and experience in radio, television and newspaper in a media convergence environment.

Updated: April 8, 2020

Related Stories

Expand All Collapse All