Dan Barry writes the This Land column for The New York Times, a feature that he inaugurated in January of 2007. In traveling to all 50 states, he has, among other experiences, witnessed an execution in Tennessee, visited a Yup’ik village in western Alaska, and interviewed Meinhardt Raabe, who played the Munchkin coroner in The Wizard of Oz, in Jacksonville, Fl. Once, while on a boat to report about the Asian carp that leap by the thousands from the Illinois River, he was struck by one of the fishy projectiles; he has since recovered, though flashbacks remain a problem.
Barry joined the Times in September 1995. Since then he has held several positions at the Times, including Long Island bureau chief (where he oversaw a staff of two, including himself), City Hall bureau chief, and, from June 2003 until November 2006, the About New York columnist. He was a major contributor to the newspaper’s coverage of the Sept. 11 catastrophe and its aftermath, as well as its coverage of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Born in Jackson Heights, Queens, in 1958, he grew up in Deer Park – Exit 51 on the Long Island Expressway. His mother, Noreen, was from County Galway, Ireland; she could spin a tragicomic tale of Homeric proportion out of a trip to ShopRite for a quart of milk. His father, Gene, was from Depression-era New York City; he could find evidence of a conspiracy against working people out of trip to ShopRite for a quart of milk.
Barry graduated from St. Bonaventure University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, then dug ditches and worked in Long Island delicatessens before earning a master’s degree in journalism from New York University — after which he dug some more ditches. He went on to work at the Journal Inquirer, in Manchester, Conn., where he covered one too many zoning board meetings, and the Providence Journal, in Rhode Island, where protesters once burned copies of one of his stories outside the newspaper’s building.
Barry has won several journalism honors. In 1992, he and two other Providence Journal reporters won a George Polk Award for an investigation into the causes of a state banking crisis. In 1994, he and the other members of the Journal’s investigative team won a Pulitzer Prize for a series of articles about Rhode Island’s court system. His other honors include the 2003 American Society of Newspaper Editors Award for deadline reporting, for his coverage of the first anniversary of Sept. 11, and the 2005 Mike Berger Award, from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, which honors in-depth human interest reporting. He was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing in 2006, for his slice-of-life reports from hurricane-battered New Orleans and from New York, and in 2010, for his This Land articles.
In addition, in 2001 he received a fifth-place award for feature writing from a national bowling organization; the certificate misspelled his name.
Barry has written three books: Pull Me Up: A Memoir, published in May 2004; City Lights: Stories About New York, a collection of his About New York columns, published in November 2007; and Bottom of the 33rd: Hope, Redemption, and Baseball’s Longest Game, published in April 2011.