Archive for Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pulitzers honor papers big and small

April 13, 2010

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KU grad wins Pulitzer

A Kansas University graduate was among the Pulitzer Prize winners announced Monday. Read about Colleen McCain Nelson here.

— The Bristol Herald Courier, a small paper in the coalfields of Appalachia, beat out journalism’s powerhouses to win the Pulitzer Prize for public service Monday for uncovering a scandal in which Virginia landowners were deprived of millions in natural gas royalties.

The seven-reporter daily was honored for what many regard as an endangered form of journalism in this age of wrenching newspaper cutbacks — aggressive reporting on local issues.

The Washington Post received four Pulitzers — for international reporting on Iraq, feature writing, commentary and criticism. The New York Times won three — for national reporting, for explanatory reporting, and for investigative reporting for collaborating with the fledgling nonprofit news service ProPublica for a story on the life-and-death decisions made by New Orleans doctors during Hurricane Katrina.

The ProPublica prize — and an editorial cartooning award for the self-syndicated Mark Fiore, whose work appears on the San Francisco Chronicle Web site SFGate.com — represented a victory for new media in a competition long dominated by ink-on-newsprint.

ProPublica, a 2-year-old organization based in New York with around 30 employees, is bankrolled by charitable foundations, staffed by distinguished veteran journalists, and devoted to doing the kind of big investigative journalism projects many newspapers have found too expensive. It offers many of its stories to traditional news organizations, free of charge.

A prize for investigative reporting also went to the Philadelphia Daily News for exposing a rogue police narcotics squad. Barbara Laker and Wendy Ruderman’s reporting led to an FBI investigation and the re-examination of hundreds of criminal cases.

The Des Moines Register won for breaking-news photography for capturing a rescuer trying to save a woman trapped beneath a dam, and the Denver Post was honored for feature photography for a portrait of a teenager who joined the Army at the height of insurgent violence in Iraq.

“Next to Normal,” a musical about the complexity and heartbreak of a woman’s mental illness and its effect on her family, has won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for drama.

Paul Harding’s “Tinkers,” a debut novel released by the tiny Bellevue Literary Press, was the surprise fiction winner. Harding, who writes of an old New Englander looking back on his life, is the former drummer of Cold Water Flat, and started the book a decade ago while the band was on hiatus.

The Pulitzers are the most prestigious awards in journalism and are given out annually by Columbia University on the recommendation of a board of distinguished journalists and others. Each Pulitzer carries a $10,000 prize except for the public service award, which is a gold medal.

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