Poetry, photography, journalism led to a Pulitzer Prize for a Mason alumnus

Thomas LeGro received his bachelor's and master's degrees from Mason. Photo courtesy of The Washington Post

Thomas (Tom) LeGro, BA English ’98, MFA Creative Writing ’01, didn’t necessarily plan a path into journalism.

But his passion for writing and creating eventually led him to The Washington Post, where he is a senior producer for video. LeGro was part of The Washington Post’s team that revealed U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore’s alleged past sexual harassment of teenage girls and the subsequent efforts to undermine the reporting that exposed it.

The team won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative journalism for their combined text and video entry, which included video of a confrontation between Post journalists and a false accuser working for Project Veritas.

The Post’s reporting had a critical effect on the December 2017 election; it resulted in a total of eight women coming forward with allegations against Moore, who lost the election.

LeGro considered a career in education, but found that he clicked with Mason’s Creative Writing Program.

“I just liked it so much,” he recalls, particularly the opportunity to study with professors whose writing he admired. “Becoming collegial with them, seeing them in the real world … revered figures became real people.”

During his undergraduate years, LeGro worked as a photo editor for the Broadside, the predecessor to Mason’s IV Estate student newspaper, where he enjoyed the newsroom camaraderie and introduction to the world of journalism. As he began his MFA studies, he worked with Mason’s Office of Creative Services, where he admits that he found a better darkroom and better equipment than was available to student media.

A friend from the Broadside who worked as a layout editor at the Post suggested LeGro apply for a part-time evening job with the sports desk during his final year of his MFA program. LeGro’s hours were 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Following graduation, his entry-level position as a news aide led to a job as a layout editor, then to a full-time position as a copy editor in sports.

He found an opportunity to draw upon his poetry background as well as his journalistic skills when PBS NewsHour received a grant from the Poetry Foundation to cover poetry. He worked with the PBS NewsHour from late 2006 until 2013, when The Washington Post launched a video initiative and he returned to the paper.

As an MFA graduate with a concentration in poetry, LeGro appreciates working near the editor of The Washington Post’s Book World, Ron Charles, where he has the opportunity to examine new publications of all kinds.

And he notes that his wife, poet Hope Smith LeGro, MFA creative writing ’00, continues to write and present poetry.

His advice for students who love to read, write, and create is the same advice LeGro offers to his team of video editors at The Post.

“Concentrate your energy into things you care about and are passionate about,” he said. “Though you need to cover other things, that’s where your good work will come. Focus, dive deep into that world.”