Jim Dwyer
Jim Dwyer, November 2016
Jim Dwyer, November 2016
Born(1957-03-04)March 4, 1957
New York City, U.S.
DiedOctober 8, 2020(2020-10-08) (aged 63)
New York City, U.S.
OccupationJournalist, author
EducationFordham College (BS)
Columbia University (MS)
Notable works
  • More Awesome Than Money: Four Boys, Three Years, and a Chronicle of Ideals and Ambition in Silicon Valley
  • False Conviction: Innocence, Guilt and Science
  • 102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers
  • Actual Innocence: Five Days to Execution and Other Dispatches from the Wrongly Convicted
  • Subway Lives: 24 Hours in the Life of the New York City Subway
Notable awardsPulitzer Prize for Commentary
Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Reporting (team)
Catherine Muir Dwyer
(m. 1981)

Jim Dwyer (March 4, 1957 – October 8, 2020)[1] was an American journalist and author. He was a reporter and columnist with The New York Times, and the author or co-author of six non-fiction books. A native New Yorker, Dwyer wrote columns for New York Newsday and the New York Daily News before joining the Times.[2][3] He appeared in the 2012 documentary film Central Park Five and was portrayed on stage in Nora Ephron's Lucky Guy (2013). Dwyer had won the Pulitzer Prize in 1995 for his "compelling and compassionate columns about New York City"[4] and was also a member of the New York Newsday team that won the 1992 Pulitzer for spot news reporting for coverage of a subway derailment in Manhattan.[1]


Dwyer was born on March 4, 1957, in Manhattan, one of four sons of Philip and Mary (née Molloy) Dwyer, who were Irish Catholic immigrants. Dwyer graduated from the Msgr. William R. Kelly School in 1971. At the Loyola School, he played several sports, joined the drama club, was editor of the school newspaper and graduated in 1975. He later attended Fordham University where he earned a bachelor's degree in general science, in 1979. While in Fordham, future Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo was his classmate. In 1980, he received a master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.[1]

Dwyer married Catherine Muir, a professor of computer sciences, in 1981. They had two daughters; Maura Dwyer and Catherine Elizabeth Dwyer.[5]

Dwyer died on October 8, 2020, at the age of 63, due to complications of lung cancer.[6]


In 1992, Dwyer was a member of a team at New York Newsday that won the Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Reporting for their coverage of the 1991 Union Square derailment,[7] and in 1995, as a columnist with New York Newsday, he received the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for compassionate and compelling columns about New York City.[4][8] Besides The New York Times and Newsday, he worked at the Hudson Dispatch, the Elizabeth Daily Journal, The Record of Hackensack, and the New York Daily News. He joined the Times in May 2001 and contributed to the paper's coverage of the September 11 attacks,[9][10][11][12][13] the invasion of Iraq,[14] and how intelligence was allegedly manipulated to create the illusion that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.[15] He was the About New York columnist at the Times from April 2007 until his death in 2020.[1]


Dwyer is the author or co-author of six non-fiction books, including the below:

More Awesome Than Money

More Awesome Than Money: Four Boys, Three Years, and a Chronicle of Ideals and Ambition in Silicon Valley (published November 2015), is a non-fiction account of four boys who set out to combat Facebook's monopoly on social media by building an alternative social network called Diaspora. Writing in The Daily Beast, Jake Whitney described the book as "a thrilling read, astoundingly detailed and researched, alternately suspenseful and heartbreaking."[16] The book follows the four New York University undergraduates as they are inspired by the law professor and historian Eben Moglen to create a better social network, through a deluge of support they receive on Kickstarter in 2010, the death of co-founder Ilya Zhitomirskiy in 2011, up until the transfer of the project in 2013 to a community of free software developers who continue to refine it.[17] Their work is placed in the context of the dynamic relationships between the open web, digital surveillance, and free society, and the continuing efforts of groups like the Mozilla Foundation to prevent domination of the web by commercial interests. "In the shadows, more and more idealists express their opposition in code — hackers with a moral compass," Marcus Brauchli wrote in The Washington Post, calling the book a "lively account" that "finds heroism and success, betrayal and even, ultimately, tragedy in the hurtling pursuit of a cause."[18]

False Conviction

False Conviction: Innocence, Science and Guilt (2014), is an interactive book created in collaboration with Touch Press, the leading developer of "living books", and the New York Hall of Science.[19] Using video, animations, and text, the book explores the science behind errors in the courtroom and criminal investigations and shows routine safeguards that other fields use to guard against them. The reader can play interactive games in the book that show how everyday mistakes can turn into false convictions. "Nonscientists will find the book's discussion of these complex scientific questions clear and accessible, and scientists will find them deep and detailed enough to maintain interest and spark further inquiry", Hugh McDonald wrote in the museum journal Exhibitionist. "False Conviction makes its case for reform...and does so strongly and engagingly....These compelling stories of tragedy, science and the search for the truth are available for a much broader audience than if they were the subject of a classic bricks and mortar exhibition. With False Conviction, The New York Hall of Science proves that museums can move beyond their own walls to create compelling investigations of complex issues at the intersection of science and society."[20] Conceived by Eric Siegel, the chief content officer of the Hall of Science, and Peter Neufeld, the co-founder of the Innocence Project, the book was developed by the Hall of Science, in consultation with the Innocence Project, with a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation's program for Public Understanding of Science, Technology & Economics.[21]

102 Minutes

Main article: 102 Minutes

102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers (2005), co-written with Kevin Flynn, an editor at The New York Times Company, was a 2005 National Book Award finalist.[22] The book chronicled the 102 minutes that the twin towers of the World Trade Center stood after the attacks of September 11, 2001, began. The sources included interviews with survivors, tapes of police and fire operations, 911 calls, and other material obtained under freedom of information requests including 20,000 pages of tape transcripts, oral histories, and other documents.[23][24]

Actual Innocence and Two Seconds Under the World

Dwyer co-authored Actual Innocence: Five Days to Execution and Other Dispatches from the Wrongly Convicted (2000), a "pathbreaking" exploration of the causes of wrongful convictions.[25] More than a decade after its publication, according to an article in the University of Chicago Law Review: "As had never been done before, Actual Innocence presented story after story of wrongful convictions (and near executions) of the indisputably innocent, with each chapter devoted to exposing each of these flaws in the justice system. Actual Innocence was nothing short of a revelation, a wake-up call concerning the reality of wrongful convictions and the truth-telling power of DNA evidence. It was not merely descriptive; it was also prescriptive, setting out a lengthy recipe of reforms needed to prevent future wrongful convictions."[25] Dwyer was the co-author of Two Seconds Under the World (1994), an account of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center that explored the early signs of fundamentalist terrorism, and poor coordination by investigating agencies, including the FBI.[1]

Subway Lives

Dwyer is the author of Subway Lives: 24 Hours in the Life of the New York Subways (1991), which the critic Jonathan Yardley said was "as good a book about New York as you could hope to find." It follows the lives of six New Yorkers and is set on the day the last graffiti-covered train was in service.[26] Writing in The Washington Post, Yardley commented: "Subway Lives is a book that not merely tells you everything you secretly wanted to know about subways; it also allows you to see New York from a novel, revealing vantage point...In every way, it's a terrific book."[27] In the Los Angeles Times, Devon Jerslid wrote: "Subway Lives may be hard-boiled, but it's best understood as an epic poem, and Dwyer himself comes across as a faintly Homeric figure, a late 20th-century urban bard who finds something heroic in (and under) the mean streets of Gotham."[28] Much of the material for the book came from his job as the subway columnist from 1986 to 1989 for New York Newsday.[29]

Film and theater

The filmmaker Ken Burns described Dwyer as the Greek chorus of the 2012 documentary, Central Park Five, made by Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon, on the wrongful convictions of five teenagers in an attack on a jogger.[30] The actor Michael Gaston portrayed Dwyer in Lucky Guy, a play by Nora Ephron about Dwyer's friend Mike McAlary, the late Pulitzer Prize–winning columnist, that ran on Broadway in 2013, starring Tom Hanks as McAlary.[31] Dwyer wrote about McAlary and his conversations with Ephron for The New York Times.[32]



  1. ^ a b c d e McFadden, Robert D. (October 8, 2020). "Jim Dwyer, Pulitzer Prize–winning Journalist, Dies at 63". The New York Times. New York City. Retrieved October 8, 2020.
  2. ^ Ben Cosgrove (March 11, 2016). "The best job in journalism? Sorry, it's already filled by Jim Dwyer". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved May 7, 2020. Dwyer, 59, has covered his native New York since the 1980s, writing for Newsday–where he won a Pulitzer for "his compelling and compassionate columns about New York City"–The Daily News, and, for the past 15 years, the Times.
  3. ^ "Times Topics Page: Jim Dwyer, New York Times Online". The New York Times. Retrieved May 7, 2020. The winner of the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for commentary and a co-recipient of the 1992 Pulitzer for breaking news, Mr. Dwyer is also the author or co-author of six books.
  4. ^ a b "The Pulitzer for distinguished commentary – Jim Dwyer of Newsday, Long Island, NY". The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved October 10, 2020.
  5. ^ McShane, Larry (October 8, 2020). "Jim Dwyer, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist, Dies at 63". New York Daily News. New York City: Tribune Publishing. Retrieved October 8, 2020.
  6. ^ Schudel, Matt (October 8, 2020). "Jim Dwyer, author and Pulitzer-winning chronicler of NYC life, dies at 63". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C.: Nash Holdings. Retrieved October 8, 2020.
  7. ^ "1992 Pulitzer Prize Winners and Their Works in Journalism and the Arts". The New York Times. April 8, 1992. Retrieved May 6, 2020.
  8. ^ "J-School Grads Awarded 4 of 14 Pulitzer Prizes". Columbia University Record. New York City: Columbia University. April 28, 1995.
  9. ^ Dwyer, Jim (October 9, 2001). "Objects/The Squeegee: Fighting for Life 50 Floors Up, With One Tool and Ingenuity". The New York Times. Retrieved May 6, 2020.
  10. ^ Dwyer, Jim; Lipton, Eric; Flynn, Kevin; Glanz, James; Fessenden, Ford (May 26, 2002). "102 Minutes: Last Words At the Trade Center; Fighting to Live As the Towers Die". The New York Times. Retrieved May 6, 2020.
  11. ^ Dwyer, Jim; Flynn, Kevin; Fessenden, Ford (July 7, 2002). "Fatal Confusion: A Troubled Emergency Response; 9/11 Exposed Deadly Flaws In Rescue Plan". The New York Times. Retrieved May 6, 2020.
  12. ^ Jim Dwyer (August 29, 2003). "The Port Authority tapes: Overview; Fresh Glimpse in 9/11 Files Of the Struggles for Survival". The New York Times. p. A1. Retrieved September 23, 2019. As for Mr. De Martini and Mr. Ortiz, the transmissions disclose only fragments of their efforts, but taken with the accounts of the people they saved, add to a powerful narrative of heroism and loss.
  13. ^ Jim Dwyer (September 8, 2011). "In Love With Death". The New York Times. Retrieved September 23, 2019. That morning, Raffaele Cava, age 80, was working on the 90th floor of the north tower. After the plane hit, no one could open the exits, so he went to another office and sat with Dianne DeFontes and Tirsa Moya. The hall floors were melting. Suddenly, two men in the stairwell pried open the door, walked in and ordered everyone to go. They were Frank De Martini and Pablo Ortiz, Port Authority employees who worked one flight down, and who took it on themselves to climb up and down 14 floors, getting scores of people out. They never left.
  14. ^ Dwyer, Jim (March 4, 2003). "The Screaming Eagles Fly to the Gulf". The New York Times. Retrieved May 6, 2020.
  15. ^ Dwyer, Jim (July 9, 2004). "Defectors' Reports on Iraq Arms Were Embellished, Exile Asserts". The New York Times. Retrieved May 6, 2020.
  16. ^ Whitney, Jake (November 12, 2014). "How Four Upstarts Built and Crashed the Anti-Facebook". The Daily Beast. New York City: IBT Media.
  17. ^ Rosen, Christine, "The Boys Who Tried To Protect Our Privacy," Wall Street Journal, October 15, 2014
  18. ^ Brauchli, Marcus, "Book Review: 'More Awesome Than Money,' on the founders of an alternative social network by Jim Dwyer," Washington Post, October 31, 2014
  19. ^ Ibooks Catalogue
  20. ^ McDonald, Hugh, "Book Review: False Conviction: Innocence, Guilt and Science," pp. 80–81, Exhibitionist, Spring 2015
  21. ^ "Sloan Foundation New Media Website". Archived from the original on January 16, 2014. Retrieved January 17, 2014.
  22. ^ USA Today: Doctorow, Didion Among National Book Award Finalists
  23. ^ "The longest '102 Minutes'; Reporters' tale a riveting personal glimpse of Sept. 11 tragedy.(Arts and Lifestyle) - The Boston Herald | HighBeam Research". September 24, 2015. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved October 10, 2020.
  24. ^ "9/11 Remembered As 102 Minutes.(Breaking News and Opinion)(Book review) - Basilandspice.com | HighBeam Research". September 24, 2015. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved October 10, 2020.
  25. ^ a b Nirider, Laura H., Tepfer, Joshua A., Drizin, Steven A., "Review: Combating Contamination in Confession Cases", The University of Chicago Law Review Vol. 79, No. 2 (Spring 2012), pp. 837–862. Accessed March 24, 2016.
  26. ^ Schudel, Matt. "Jim Dwyer, author and Pulitzer-winning chronicler of NYC life, dies at 63". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved October 10, 2020.
  27. ^ Yardley, Jonathan (November 24, 1991). "Notes from the Underground". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 25, 2016.
  28. ^ Jersild, Devon (December 25, 1991). "Poetic Prose of Underground New York". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 25, 2016.
  29. ^ McShane, Larry (October 8, 2020). "Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist and ex-Daily Newser Jim Dwyer dead at age 63". nydailynews.com. Retrieved October 10, 2020.
  30. ^ Kenneth Turan (2012). "Review: Devastating 'The Central Park Five' details injustice". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 6, 2020. 'I wish I had been more skeptical as a journalist,' says regretful New York Times columnist Jim Dwyer, one of the film's key voices. 'A lot of people didn't do their jobs: reporters, police, prosecutors, defense attorneys.... Truth, reality and justice were not part of it.'
  31. ^ Linda Winer (March 31, 2013). "'Lucky Guy' review: Tom Hanks smartly follows reporter's tale". Newsday. Retrieved May 6, 2020. Juggling the fast-talking chronicles are many recognizable bylines -- Jim Dwyer (Michael Gaston), Michael Daly (Peter Scolari) and Bob Drury (Danny Mastrogiorgio).
  32. ^ The New York Times, March 28, 2013, "From Tabloid Myth To Opening Night"