Rick Bragg


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Rick Bragg is an American journalist and writer known for non-fiction books, especially those about his family in Alabama. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1996, recognizing his work at The New York Times. Bragg was born in the small city of Piedmont in northeastern Alabama and grew up in the small community of Possum Trot near Jacksonville. He credited his ability to write to listening to his family tell stories. 

He was raised primarily by his mother, as his father was an alcoholic and was almost never home. His relatives were also very involved in his young life, greatly influencing his personal and emotional development. Bragg worked at several newspapers before joining the New York Times in 1994. He covered murders and unrest in Haiti as a metro reporter, then wrote about the Oklahoma City bombing, the Jonesboro, Arkansas, killings, and the Susan Smith trial as a national correspondent based in Atlanta. 

He later became the paper's Miami bureau chief prior to Elián González's arrival and the international controversy surrounding the Cuban boy. Bragg won the Pulitzer Prize for his work. Bragg has authored nine books: All Over But the Shoutin, Ava's Man, The Prince of Frogtown; I Am a Soldier Too: The Jessica Lynch Story, the authorized biography of American POW Jessica Lynch, The Most They Ever Had, Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story, My Southern Journey, The Best Cook in the World: Tales From My Momma's Table, and Where I Come from: Stories from the Deep South.

Bragg's book All Over But the Shoutin tells the story of his childhood in Alabama, his rise to becoming a journalist, his personal struggles, and the stories of the people he cares about. The book pays special attention to his struggles with his abusive, alcoholic father and the story of his mother, who raised Bragg and his two brothers on her own.

On May 28, 2003, after being given a two-week suspension for writing a story that was reported by an uncredited stringer, Bragg resigned from the New York Times. For the story, an account of Florida Gulf Coast oystermen culture he had written the year before, Bragg relied on the reporting of volunteer intern J. Wes Yoder. The article ran with a dateline of Apalachicola, Florida, and began:

"The anchor is made from the crankshaft of a junked car, the hull is stained with bottom muck, but the big Johnson outboard motor is brand new. Chugging softly, it pushes the narrow oyster boat over Apalachicola Bay, gently intruding on the white egrets that slip like paper airplanes just overhead and the jumping mullet that belly-flop with a sharp clap into steel-gray water."

The Washington Post reported that "Bragg freely admits that he sent his intern, Yoder, who was compensated only with lunch and rent money, on the boat." A review by the Times found that while Bragg "indeed visited Apalachicola briefly and wrote the article, the interviewing and reporting on the scene were done by a freelance journalist, J. Wes Yoder. The article should have carried Mr. Yoder's byline with Mr. Bragg's."

Bragg's defense — that it is common for Times correspondents to slip in and out of cities to "get the dateline" while relying on the work of stringers, researchers, interns, and clerks — was contested by Times reporters and sparked "more passionate disagreement than the clear-cut fraud and plagiarism committed by fellow reporter Jayson Blair."

Bragg has taught writing in colleges and newspaper newsrooms. He now works as a writing professor at the University of Alabama's journalism program in its College of Communication and Information Sciences and writes a column for Southern Living. His 2008 book, The Prince of Frogtown, explores his father's life in Bragg's hometown of Jacksonville, Alabama.

Bragg won the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing, citing "his elegantly written stories about contemporary America." He has received over 50 writing awards in 20 years, including the American Society of Newspaper Editors Distinguished Writing Award twice. In 1992, he was awarded a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University.

Best author’s book


All Over but the Shoutin'

Jason Calacanis