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Ex-teacher from Co Tyrone Dominic Gates wins Pulitzer Prize

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A Co Tyrone man living in the US who came to journalism as a second career has won a prestigious Pulitzer Prize for reporting. File image posed by model

A Co Tyrone man living in the US who came to journalism as a second career has won a prestigious Pulitzer Prize for reporting. File image posed by model

Getty Images/iStockphoto

A Co Tyrone man living in the US who came to journalism as a second career has won a prestigious Pulitzer Prize for reporting. File image posed by model

A Co Tyrone man living in the US who came to journalism as a second career has won a prestigious Pulitzer Prize for reporting.

Dominic Gates from Dungannon is sharing the 2020 Pulitzer for National Reporting with three colleagues from the Seattle Times for their reporting into crashes involving Boeing's 737 Max jet, which killed 346 people.

Mr Gates told the Belfast Telegraph that he started out by writing unpaid articles for Belfast-based current affairs magazine Fortnight.

But he said he had no verifiable journalism credentials when he arrived in the US in 1992.

However, the Seattle Times had "taken a chance on him".

Now Dominic and colleagues Steve Miletich, Mike Baker and Lewis Kamb have helped win the West Coast newspaper its 11th Pulitzer, and its third for covering aerospace giant Boeing, based in the city.

The winning coverage included a report by Mr Gates in March 2019 revealing that Boeing had misinformed the Federal Aviation Administration and airlines about features of the plane's automated flight control system, which caused the crashes.

The Seattle Times said its report "showed how a dysfunctional regulatory process allowed a flawed design to be approved while the FAA increasingly delegated responsibility for safety assessments to the manufacturer".

Stories written by the team also examined the human toll of the crashes.

Mr Gates told the Belfast Telegraph that he had arrived in the US in 1992 aged 37 with wife Nina Shapiro and an ambition to make it as a journalist.

"I had to freelance for years, while subbing in the public schools, to compile enough clips that would serve as my credentials. My first real journalism job was an 18 month stint with a techie business magazine that went out of business when the DotCom bubble burst in 2001.

"Then the Seattle Times took a chance and hired me in 2003. It's my first and only newspaper job."

Mr Gates, whose siblings Paula and Patrick still live in Co Tyrone, is a past pupil of St Patrick's Academy in Dungannon.

He became a teacher after graduating in maths from Queen's University, teaching maths in St Gemma's High School Ardoyne and St Mary's Grammar in Magherafelt. Mr Gates then moved to Zimbabwe where he met Nina before moving back to her US home. Nina is also a Seattle Times reporter.

Belfast Telegraph