The City Is His Beat

New York reporter Jim Dwyer

After being part of a team of reporters that won a Pulitzer Prize at New York Newsday in 1992, Jim Dwyer went on to earn his own Pulitzer as a columnist in 1995. When New York Newsday expired in 1995, he landed at the Daily News, managing at the same time to write three books. Last year, ready for a change and discouraged by the shrinking role of tabloid columnists, a national phenomenon, he moved to the New York Times, and returned to straight reporting. But whatever the genre or assignment, Dwyer remains a writer known for his unique voice.

Dwyer’s solid build, medium height, square, bearded face, and quick mind give him the aspect of an agile cinderblock. He carries himself like a street reporter, ready to move fast or stand still for hours, and squirms at any attention others give to the man holding the pen. Such reticence is typical of journalists, and also of the Irish-Catholic tribe from which Dwyer hails. Happily, the anonymity of a newspaper byline-few people remember a reporter’s name-usually deflects the unwanted spotlight. When I ask Dwyer if a Catholic vision animates his work, we are soon discussing the reaction of other people-not himself-to September 11, which he covered extensively for the Times.

"I don’t know if I am, or if everyone is, driven by some form of our better angels. If you look at how people behaved on September 11-and I’m not talking about just firefighters or rescue...

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About the Author

Christopher D. Ringwald directs the Faith & Society Project at The Sage Colleges in Albany, New York. He is the author of The Soul of Recovery: Uncovering the Spiritual Dimension in the Treatment of Addictions (Oxford University Press).