Gene Weingarten

On this date in 1951, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Gene Norman Weingarten was born in New York City. He attended the Bronx High School of Science and New York University. At NYU he edited the daily student newspaper. He garnered his first cover story in 1972 while still in college when his reporting on gangs in the South Bronx was published in New York magazine.

After working as a journalist in Albany and Detroit, he was hired as the editor of the Miami Herald Sunday magazine Tropic. In Weingarten’s nine years as editor, Tropic was awarded two Pulitzer Prizes. In 1990 he went to work as a nationally syndicated humor columnist with the Washington Post.

Weingarten is the author of five books. His first, The Hypochondriac’s Guide to Life. And Death (1998) recounts his near-fatal bout of hepatitis C and his admitted hypochondria. In 2004 he and feminist writer Gina Barreca wrote I’m With Stupid: One Man, One Woman — 10,000 Years Of Misunderstandings Between the Sexes Cleared Right Up. His next book, Old Dogs: Are the Best Dogs (2008), was a collaboration with photographer Michael Williamson.

Weingarten says he’s an atheist who doesn’t proselytize, which is the basis of Christianity. “It’s an essential problem with religion in that it is, by its nature, exclusionary.” In 2014 he published a children’s book, Me & Dog. It tells the story of a boy and his dog through a secular lens, countering massively popular books like Heaven Is for Real, a 2010 book later made into a movie that purportedly told a 3-year-old boy’s near-death story of his trip to heaven and back during appendicitis surgery. His father was a Nebraska pastor.

In 2010 Weingarten was awarded a Pulitzer for Feature Writing for “Fatal Distraction,” his story about parents who accidentally kill their children by forgetting them in cars. That same year he and his son Dan started publishing the syndicated comic strip “Barney & Clyde,” illustrated by David Clark. In 2014 he was awarded the National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ Ernie Pyle Lifetime Achievement Award.

Freedom From Religion Foundation