Pulitzer winners talk empowerment, drink out of a shoe

By HALEY SAWYER

Two interview questions in and Barbara Laker and Wendy Ruderman broke out into Pat Benatar’s “Shadows of the Night.”

Being the balls of energy that they are, it can be easy to forget that the two are Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporters.

At the PWPA Annual Awards Luncheon, Laker and Ruderman shared a microphone and admitted that they were basically “winging” their speech, reading off of hand-written notes on lined yellow notebook paper.

Despite the lighthearted tone, the Philadelphia Daily News investigative reporters spoke about serious issues.

During their prize-winning investigative series “Tainted Justice,” which explored abusive police, the two took heat from the very law enforcers they were working to expose.  Detractors used a chat website to disparage the two, dubbing Laker and Ruderman the “Slime Sisters.”

“It made us feel vulnerable,” Ruderman said.  “But it also pissed us off.”

Ruderman also spoke of how it can sometimes be easier to be a female journalist.  She explained how women are generally less intimidating, which can make it easier to talk to people.

Laker noted that it is still important to have head, heart, and gut, but it is equally important to wisely choose which clothing to wear.

Female reporters can become chameleons, changing their outfit and appearance to match their surrounding environment, Laker said.

The pair finished with what’s become their famous shoe toast – Ruderman first drank Champagne out of her shoe after winning the Pulitzer – put an exclamation point on their appearance.

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