Boston Globe reporter and editor Janelle Nanos was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in feature writing Monday for her story about a woman’s long journey to prove the unthinkable childhood abuse she says she suffered at the hands of her father.
“I’m beyond grateful,” said Nanos, a business enterprise reporter and assistant business editor for news innovation for the Globe. “This is a story that was 10 years in the making, and I never knew if it would ever see the light of day, so to be recognized at this level feels extraordinary.”
Nanos first met Kate Price, a visiting scholar at Wellesley College, in 2012 at an anti-trafficking coalition meeting in Brighton and heard her allegations that her father sold her for sex to truckers in Pennsylvania. By then, Price had already spent decades probing her own history and had become a recognized authority on child sex trafficking.
They began talking, and soon Nanos was on a quest to verify Price’s allegations. She spent the ensuing years uncovering new evidence that seemed to confirm Price’s story and eventually had a brief face-to-face meeting with Price’s father, who denied the abuse.
The story, “Kate Price remembers something terrible,” appeared in the Globe Magazine last July and drew responses from others with stories of being trafficked for sex by a family member.
“The thing that’s really hard to conceive of is the fact that somebody would do this to their own kid,” Nanos said. “We’ve had conversations about child sex abuse, and abuse happening within families to some extent, but I think the idea that it could go to another level and involve trafficking is really hard for people to stomach, and it is easier to look away.”
Nanos said she spoke with Price shortly after learning the story had been listed as a Pulitzer finalist.
“This story changed both of our lives,” Nanos said. “She’s ecstatic and she’s just glad that it raises awareness on this issue, which has been her life’s work, too.”
Nanos is now working on a book, “An Unthinkable Crime,” that builds on Price’s story with a wider examination of familial child sex trafficking, deficiencies in the legal system, and the nature of memory and trauma.
The Pulitzer Prizes, awarded annually by Columbia University since 1917, are seen as the highest honor in journalism. The Globe has won 27 Pulitzers.
Globe editor Nancy Barnes praised Nanos’s work in an e-mail to the staff Monday shortly after the winners and finalists were announced.
“We don’t do our work for awards, of course, but to tell important stories no one else might tell, and to serve the public, which Janelle does every day,” Barnes wrote. “Janelle delivered work of the highest caliber and we are so fortunate to have her serving the public in The Boston Globe newsroom.”
Nick Stoico can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.