When Jim Borgman Met The Pulitzer

In 1985 Jim Borgman was a nominee for The Pulitzer Prize in Editorial Cartooning, Jeff MacNelly took The Prize home that year. Six years later, in 1991, Jim was again a finalist. That year, 30 years ago today, the Cincinnati Enquirer cartoonist won the prestigious award.

Jim knew he was a finalist for the Pulitzer. But even though he was wearing his lucky tie, he wasn’t getting his hopes up. That morning, Jim and his editor, Tom Thom Gephardt, were summoned to the office of Bill Keating, The Enquirer’s publisher.

Keating broke the news to Jim. “Bill reached across the desk and shook my hand and said, ‘Congratulations, you’ve won the Pulitzer Prize.’ ”

Recently Jim sat down with current Cincinnati Enquirer cartoonist Kevin Necessary to remember that day on the 30th anniversary of the honor.

“But let me tell you a story,” he added. “Our house is beginning to fill up with flowers. People are sending balloons. And you get this kind of crazy feeling of being the center of attention and everyone is toasting you and it kind of plays with your head.

“And about two days later I’m at home and the phone rings. And the voice on the other line says, ‘Is this Jim Borgman?’ I say, ‘Yes, it is.’ ”

It was The New York Times calling. “‘How are you doing today?’” Jim said the voice on the other line asked. Jim replied, “I can’t even begin to explain. My house is full of balloons and flowers, and I’m seeing all kinds of people that I haven’t seen in years and hearing from everyone. And I’m just so grateful and I’m so thrilled. I couldn’t be happier.”

Jim said there was a pause on the other line. Finally, the woman from the Times said, “Well, that’s nice. I was just calling to see if you wanted to get home delivery of The New York Times.”

“You just go right back to your place, you know?” Jim said.

Kevin’s full report is at The Cincinnati Enquirer.

Bowling Green State University has Jim’s Pulitzer Prize-winning portfolio.

These days the Pulitzer announcement comes a little later – on the third Monday of April.

Whoops, even later this year:

The Pulitzer Prize Board has decided to postpone the 2021 award winners’ announcement. Originally scheduled for Monday, April 19, 2021, the Prizes in Journalism, Books, Drama and Music now will be announced on Friday, June 11, 2021 at 1 p.m.

cartoons © The Cincinnati Enquirer/Jim Borgman