MacArthur Fellows Program

Katherine Boo

Journalist | Class of 2002

Chronicling the stories of people struggling at the invisible margins of society.

The Washington Post
Washington, District of Columbia
37 at time of award
Published September 25, 2002

About Katherine's Work

Katherine Boo is an investigative journalist who writes about the lives of the less fortunate with passion, conviction, and clarity. Among the most influential journalists writing about contemporary social conditions, Boo's reportage is characterized by its expansive research, elegant presentation, and empathy for her subjects. Her work as a journalist and editor has encompassed a wide variety of national and international issues, but the bulk of her recent efforts have focused on highlighting the stories of those struggling with economic dislocation, or mental or physical disabilities. Through rigorous background research, Boo’s articles frame the magnitude of these problems within the larger society. More importantly, she conveys the often-poignant personal tragedies behind the statistics. Her Pulitzer Prize–winning series in the Washington Post published in 2000, “Invisible Lives, Invisible Deaths,” exposed inadequate care too often provided to the mentally disabled in the Washington D.C. social service system. Her stories have catalyzed efforts to improve the quality of these support services. Her extended profiles of individuals struggling at the invisible margins of society open a powerful journalistic window into the obstacles faced by many.


Katherine Boo received her A.B. (1988) summa cum laude from Columbia University. She worked as a writer and editor for the Washington City Paper and The Washington Monthly (1988–92) before joining the staff of The Washington Post. At the Post, she began by writing and editing for the “Sunday Outlook” section until she joined the investigative team in 1994. Boo also writes regularly for The New Yorker. She received the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. Boo is currently writing a book about low-income families and children in Washington, D.C., whom she has followed since 1996.

Select News Coverage of Katherine Boo
October 13, 2016
"Journalist Katherine Boo Writes for Change"
The Bulletin
Katherine Boo , 2002 MacArthur Fellow
October 23, 2014
"Journalist Katherine Boo Speaks on Time in India"
Indiana Daily Student
Katherine Boo , 2002 MacArthur Fellow
April 9, 2014
"Reader’s Guide: Katherine Boo in Conversation with Kate Medina"
Random House Reader's Circle
Katherine Boo , 2002 MacArthur Fellow

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Please credit: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

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