Brunswick reporter Hongoltz-Hetling gets Pulitzer Prize finalist nomination

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FALMOUTH — Matt Hongoltz-Hetling, who joined the staff of The Forecaster last month, was named Monday as a 2012 Pulitzer Prize finalist for his work at the Advertiser Democrat in Norway.

Hongoltz-Hetling and A.M. Sheehan, editor of the Advertiser Democrat, were nominated for what Pulitzer jurors called “their tenacious exposure of disgraceful conditions in federally-supported housing in a small rural community that, within hours, triggered a state investigation.”

Sheehan and Hongoltz-Hetling were also named finalists this week for the national Michael Kelly Award, and previously received a national George Polk Award for their series on subsidized housing.

“I’m shocked,” Hongoltz-Hetling said Monday, “but I’m also glad the Pulitzers recognize the important role that a small, weekly newspaper can play.”

Hongoltz-Hetling, 38, now covers Brunswick and Harpswell for The Forecaster. The Forecaster and Advertiser Democrat are both owned by Lewiston-based Sun Media Group.

Hongoltz-Hetling joined the Advertiser Democrat in 2010, and previously was editor and publisher of a small daily newspaper at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The Pulitzer Prizes are awarded annually at Columbia University in New York.

The 2012 Pulitzer for Local Reporting was awarded to Sara Ganim and members of The Patriot-News staff, Harrisburg, Pa., for revealing and covering the Penn State University sex scandal involving former football coach Jerry Sandusky.

Also nominated as finalists for Local Reporting were staff members of California Watch, founded by the Center for Investigative Reporting, Berkeley, for a probe of deficient earthquake protection in the construction of public schools across the state.