The New York Times won two Pulitzer Prizes on Monday, for its reporting on Africa and for an investigative series on obscure tax code provisions that let the wealthiest Americans and corporations avoid paying taxes. And in a sign of the changing media landscape, online news outlets made a significant mark among the winners, with The Huffington Post and Politico capturing their first Pulitzer Prizes.
Also notable this year was the absence of prizes in two categories. The Pulitzer Prize Board at Columbia University in New York, which administers the awards, did not name a winner in the editorial writing category and more notably declined to name a winner of the coveted prize for fiction. The last time no winner was named for fiction was in 1977.
The Philadelphia Inquirer, which like many regional newspapers has struggled lately with a decline in print advertising revenue and changes in ownership, won the award for public service. The Inquirer’s winning series and its related online multimedia focused on the pervasive child-against-child violence in Philadelphia’s schools.
In the arts, the winners included Quiara Alegría Hudes, who took the prize for drama for her play “Water by the Spoonful” about a returned Iraq War veteran who works at a sandwich shop in Philadelphia. And the history prize went to the late Manning Marable for “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention,” which the committee called “a work that separates fact from fiction and blends the heroic and tragic.”
The winning journalism entries this year covered a broad range of the biggest news topics of 2011, including an award to a 24-year-old reporter, Sara Ganim, and The Patriot-News staff in Harrisburg, Pa., for local reporting related to the Penn State sexual abuse scandal.
The Tuscaloosa News won in the breaking news category for its coverage of the deadly tornado that devastated that Alabama town last year. The committee lauded the newspaper’s use of “social media as well as traditional reporting to provide real-time updates.”
No newspaper won more than two awards. David Kocieniewski, a business reporter for The New York Times, won in the explanatory journalism category for his series “But Nobody Pays That,” in which he chronicled the ways that the wealthiest Americans and corporations exploit loopholes in the tax code.
Jeffrey Gettleman, the newspaper’s East Africa correspondent, won for his reporting on famine and conflict in that region, which the committee called a “neglected but increasingly strategic part of the world.”
This year marked only the second time the committee presented a prize to a purely online entry, a reflection of the emerging power of online news outlets as they compete with legacy newspapers. In 2010, Mark Fiore was awarded the prize for editorial cartoons that appeared only on sfgate.com.
The two largest newspapers by Monday-to-Friday circulation in the United States — The Wall Street Journal and USA Today — did not win an award.
Politico, a Washington-based Web site that also publishes a daily newspaper, won for Matt Wuerker’s political cartoons, which highlighted the partisan divide in Washington. Politico was founded in 2007 by two veterans of The Washington Post.
The Huffington Post, started in 2005 by Arianna Huffington, Andrew Breitbart and others, won the national reporting prize for a series on wounded veterans. Called “Beyond the Battlefield,” it was written by David Wood, a reporter formerly with Time magazine and The Los Angeles Times. The 10-part series was later published as an expanded e-book.
Shortly after The Huffington Post’s award was announced, the Web site’s editorial director, Howard Fineman, sent a celebratory e-mail to dozens of his colleagues in the news media.
“His profound series on wounded vets was a milestone for the vets themselves, but also for online journalism,” Mr. Fineman wrote of Mr. Wood and his work.
Iraq war veterans struggling to adjust to life back home was also the topic of Craig F. Walker’s winning feature photographs for The Denver Post. An image of a girl crying after a suicide bomber’s attack in Kabul from Agence France-Presse’s Massoud Hossaini won the top prize for breaking-news photography.
While new media made an impact, one of the oldest American news outlets, the 166-year-old Associated Press, also took a top prize. It won one of two investigative reporting prizes for its series on covert intelligence operations put in place by the New York Police Department in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The Seattle Times won the other investigative prize, for its reporting on how a Washington State governmental body put patients on methadone.
Eli Sanders, a reporter at the Seattle-based weekly The Stranger, won in the category of feature writing for articles about a woman who survived an attack. In the commentary category, the Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich won for her columns on Chicago, while Wesley Morris of The Boston Globe won the criticism prize for his movie reviews.
2012 Journalism Pulitzer Winners (April 17, 2012)
2012 Pulitzer Prizes for Letters, Drama and Music (April 17, 2012)
Lens Blog: Pulitzer Prizes: The Effects of War at Home (April 16, 2012)