By Kristy Koehler, April 25 2019 —
“Money, power, and greed — what more could a reporter want?” asked New York Times investigative reporter Susanne Craig in January of her 18-month investigation of Donald Trump’s finances. Craig, a former Gauntlet reporter, was speaking to writers at campus papers across the country during her keynote speech at NASH, the annual student journalism conference.
A few months later, on April 15, Craig, along with New York Times co-workers David Barstow and Russ Buettner, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory journalism for her work on Trump’s tax returns and personal finances. According to the Pulitzer Prize’s website, this investigation “debunked [Trump’s] claims of self-made wealth and revealed a business empire riddled with tax dodges.”
Craig is also a University of Calgary alumna. After graduation, she worked at the Windsor Star, The Globe and Mail and The Wall Street Journal before joining the team at The New York Times.
“Getting to the truth can be really hard […] especially when you’re writing about a man who has spent his entire life creating a false narrative about himself,” said Craig during her Pulitzer acceptance speech at the Times’ offices. “A lie passed down into history does become truth. We found that, Donald Trump banks on it and we can never forget it.”
Craig says receiving the Pulitzer was hard to put into words, and that while it’s nice to be recognized for the story, the work itself was the main achievement.
“It was a pretty big achievement — given what we went through — to get that story to press,” said Craig in an interview with the Gauntlet. “This story is certainly singular in its scope and its difficulty and, I think, its impact. It’s not often you get to essentially rewrite 50 or 60 years of somebody’s life who is sitting in the White House. It was pretty incredible in that way to see how it’s changed the narrative on him today. You wake up and feel that you really can make an impact — one person really can, or in our case, three people”
For all the challenges reporting can bring, Craig said she enjoys chasing stories and believes strongly in the need for journalism.
“Reporting is the lifeblood of a strong democracy,” she said. “Whether the government is the president of the United States or the University of Calgary Students’ Union, they still need somebody watching them.”
Craig said she is thrilled to be returning to Calgary to collect her honorary degree. She missed her own graduation the first time around, not wanting to ask for time off from her new job at the Windsor Star.
“This honorary degree means so much to me,” said Craig. “The University of Calgary changed my life and I think opened up a lot of doors for me. I didn’t do well in high school but I did really well in university and loved it. I loved my time at the Gauntlet. It was a really positive experience for me, so it’s really great to come back and talk about my journey while I was there and why it was so important to me.”
Craig will receive her honorary degree Wednesday, June 5 at 2 p.m. during the convocation ceremony. Craig, Barstow and Buettner feature in a Showtime documentary The Family Business: Trump and Taxes, which details the investigation and the lengths the three reporters went to in breaking the story.