Pulitzer Prizes spotlight US Capitol riot and middle-east air wars coverage

Last Updated 10 May 2022, 03:32 IST

The Pulitzer Prizes were awarded on Monday to an array of news organizations for investigations that uncovered the tragic toll of the United States’ air war in the Middle East, exposed the dangers of a Tampa lead smelter and pieced together the full picture of the Jan. 6 riot at the US Capitol.

The New York Times won the most Pulitzer Prizes this year of any outlet, including in the international reporting, national reporting and criticism categories. A Times reporter, Andrea Elliott, also won the award for nonfiction book.

The Washington Post won the public service category, considered the most prestigious of the prizes, for “The Attack,” a sprawling chronological examination of what led to the siege on the Capitol building and what transpired during the riot and its aftermath. The Pulitzer Prizes are presented annually by Columbia University for excellence in journalism, books, music and drama.

The staff of the Times won in the international category for a deeply reported look at the failures of the US air war across the Middle East, including its tragic civilian toll. The Times drew on a trove of Pentagon documents to show how the breakdowns in military intelligence contrasted with the image of the war that the United States was presenting.

An investigation by the staff of the Times into deadly police encounters was recognised for national reporting. The reporters combed through court documents, prosecutor statements and audio and video recordings to find out why many police stops escalate into fatal encounters and how police are sometimes given cover after deaths in custody.

Salamishah Tillet, a contributing critic at large for the Times, won the criticism category for her writing on race in popular culture that examined Black experiences, including how the art inspired by the murder of George Floyd resonated with her.

Another Times reporter, Andrea Elliott, won the Pulitzer Prize in the general nonfiction category for her book “Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival and Hope in an American City,” which was published by Random House and originated with a 2013 series she did at the Times.

The staff of the Miami Herald won for breaking news reporting for their coverage of the partial collapse of the Champlain Towers South condo tower in the town of Surfside, which killed nearly 100 people.

Corey G. Johnson, Rebecca Woolington and Eli Murray of The Tampa Bay Times were awarded the prize for investigative reporting for “Poisoned,” in which they exposed the dangers of a lead smelter in Tampa, Florida, and the serious consequences it had on workers.

Madison Hopkins of the Better Government Association, a Chicago journalism nonprofit, and Cecilia Reyes of the Chicago Tribune won for local reporting after their yearlong reporting project revealed that Chicago officials had been warned about safety issues in buildings where tenants were killed by fires.

The staff of Quanta Magazine, a science and mathematics publication, including the reporter Natalie Wolchover, were awarded the explanatory reporting award for coverage of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope.

Jennifer Senior of The Atlantic won the features writing award for her article on a family grappling with loss in the 20 years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Melinda Henneberger, a columnist at The Kansas City Star, was awarded the prize for commentary for her work demanding justice for the alleged victims of a retired police detective, who is accused of raping and exploiting Black women.

For the editorial writing category, Lisa Falkenberg, Michael Lindenberger, Joe Holley and Luis Carrasco of the Houston Chronicle were awarded for “The Big Lie,” a series on voter suppression that examined claims of voter fraud.

Insider, the website formerly known as Business Insider, won its first Pulitzer Prize. Fahmida Azim, Anthony Del Col, Josh Adams and Walt Hickey won the illustrated reporting and commentary prize for using comics to tell the story of China’s oppression of the Uyghur ethnic minority.

The breaking news photography award was given jointly to Marcus Yam of the Los Angeles Times, for his work in Afghanistan, and staff from Getty Images for their images of the Jan. 6 insurrection. The features photography award was given to Adnan Abidi, Sanna Irshad Mattoo, Amit Dave and Danish Siddiqui of Reuters for their coverage of the pandemic’s toll in India.

The award for audio reporting, a category that was introduced in 2020, was given to the staffs of Futuro Media and PRX for their podcast “Suave,” which follows a man’s life after he is released from prison after more 30 years.

The Pulitzer board also announced a special citation awarded to journalists of Ukraine for their reporting during the Russian invasion and President Vladimir Putin’s attempts to mislead the public on its realities.

“These are challenging and dangerous days for journalists around the world,” John Daniszewski, co-chair of the Pulitzer Prizes board, said in a livestream Monday, citing the 12 journalists who have died in the war on Ukraine and eight Mexican journalists who have been murdered this year.

He said the threat to independent journalism meant it was “essential that journalists at every level keep doing the difficult and sometimes courageous work to bring the public true and revelatory stories.”

The fiction prize was given to “The Netanyahus,” by Joshua Cohen, which reimagines a visit to a university campus by the father of Benjamin Netanyahu, the former prime minister of Israel.

The history prize was jointly awarded to two books. “Covered With Night,” by Nicole Eustace, looks at the murder of a Native American man by two white fur traders in 1772 and its impact on the definition of justice. “Cuba: An American History,” by Ada Ferrer, chronicles the evolution of the country and its relationship with the United States.

The biography award went to “Chasing Me to My Grave: An Artist’s Memoir of the Jim Crow South,” by Winfred Rembert as told to Erin I. Kelly. Rembert, the late Black artist, remembers his life in rural Georgia and surviving an attempted lynching to turning to art in his 50s.

Diane Seuss’ “frank: sonnets,” a collection of more than 100 sonnets, won the poetry category. “Fat Ham,” by James Ijames, which places the Shakespearean classic “Hamlet” at a Southern barbecue, was awarded the prize for drama. “Voiceless Mass,” a composition by Raven Chacon for organ and ensemble, won in the music category.

“I love that people who write for a living saw something that I wrote and they saw something of beauty in it,” Ijames said after learning that he won a Pulitzer.

List of winners


The Washington Post

The Pulitzer committee honored The Post with the prestigious public service award for its “compellingly told and vividly presented account of the assault on Washington on Jan. 6, 2021.”

Finalists: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; The New York Times


Staff of The Miami Herald

The Herald won the award for its “urgent yet sweeping” coverage of the collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium complex in Surfside, Florida.

Finalists: Staff of the Los Angeles Times; staff of The New York Times


Corey G. Johnson, Rebecca Woolington and Eli Murray of The Tampa Bay Times

A multipart investigation of toxic hazards inside Florida’s only battery recycling plant was a “compelling exposé,” the committee said, and it led to safety measures to protect workers and residents.

Finalists: Jeffrey Meitrodt and Nicole Norfleet of The Star Tribune of Minneapolis; Hannah Dreier and Andrew Ba Tran of The Washington Post


Staff of Quanta Magazine, notably Natalie Wolchover

Quanta’s coverage of the James Webb Space Telescope showed how it would facilitate groundbreaking astronomical research.

Finalists: Staff of The Philadelphia Inquirer; staff of The Wall Street Journal


Madison Hopkins of the Better Government Association and Cecilia Reyes of the Chicago Tribune

The reporters examined Chicago’s long history of failed building code and fire safety code enforcement, which let landlords commit violations resulting in dozens of unnecessary deaths.

Finalists: Tony Cook, Johnny Magdaleno and Michelle Pemberton of The Indianapolis Star; Lulu Ramadan of The Palm Beach Post; and Ash Ngu, Maya Miller and Nadia Sussman of ProPublica


Staff of The New York Times

Times reporters quantified a pattern of fatal traffic stops by the police. Officers typically avoided punishment.

Finalists: Eli Hager of the Marshall Project and Joseph Shapiro, contributor, of National Public Radio; staff of The Washington Post


Staff of The New York Times

The committee cited “courageous and relentless reporting that exposed the vast civilian toll of US-led airstrikes, challenging official accounts of American military engagements in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.”

Finalists: Staff of The New York Times; Yaroslav Trofimov and the staff of The Wall Street Journal


Jennifer Senior of The Atlantic

Senior’s portrait of a family’s reckoning with loss in the two decades since the Sept. 11 terror attacks won for “masterfully braiding the author’s personal connection to the story with sensitive reporting that reveals the long reach of grief.”

Finalists: Anand Gopal, contributing writer for The New Yorker; Meribah Knight of WPLN and Ken Armstrong of ProPublica


Melinda Henneberger of The Kansas City Star

For “persuasive columns demanding justice” for those who accused a retired police detective of being a sexual predator.

Finalists: Julian Aguon, The Atlantic; Zeynep Tufekci


Salamishah Tillet, contributing critic at large, The New York Times

For “learned and stylish writing about Black stories in art and popular culture.”

Finalists: Peter Schjeldahl of The New Yorker; Sophie Gilbert of The Atlantic


Lisa Falkenberg, Michael Lindenberger, Joe Holley and Luis Carrasco of The Houston Chronicle

The editorials revealed voter suppression tactics and rejected the myth of widespread voter fraud, the committee said.

Finalists: Abdallah Fayyad of The Boston Globe; editorial staff of The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate


Fahmida Azim, Anthony Del Col, Josh Adams and Walt Hickey of Insider

The winning work used graphic reporting and the comics medium to tell a story of the Chinese oppression of Uyghurs.

Finalists: Zoe Si, contributor at The New Yorker; Ann Telnaes of The Washington Post


Win McNamee, Drew Angerer, Spencer Platt, Samuel Corum and Jon Cherry of Getty Images; Marcus Yam of The Los Angeles Times

This year’s breaking news photography category had two winners. The Getty team won for images of the attack on the US Capitol, and Marcus Yam for “raw and urgent images of the US departure from Afghanistan.”

Finalist: Anonymous, freelance contributor for The New York Times


Adnan Abidi, Sanna Irshad Mattoo, Amit Dave and Danish Siddiqui of Reuters

For images of Covid-19’s toll in India that “balanced intimacy and devastation.”

Finalists: Photography staff of Reuters; Gabrielle Lurie of The San Francisco Chronicle


Staffs of Futuro Media and PRX

For “Suave,” a seven-episode podcast that profiled a man re-entering society after serving more than 30 years in prison.

Finalists: Eyder Peralta, Solomon Fisseha, Alsanosi Adam and Halima Athumani of NPR; Mike Hixenbaugh, Antonia Hylton, Frannie Kelley, Reid Cherlin and Julie Shapiro of NBC News


The Journalists of Ukraine

For their “courage, endurance and commitment to truthful reporting during Vladimir Putin’s ruthless invasion of their country.”


‘The Netanyahus,’ by Joshua Cohen

Cohen’s book imagines a college job interview in the 1950s for Benzion Netanyahu, academic and father of the future Israeli prime minister. The novel explores themes of Jewishness and diaspora as Netanyahu’s fatalistic view of Jewish history bumps up against that of the narrator, an assimilated American Jewish professor.

Finalists: “Monkey Boy,” by Francisco Goldman; “Palmares,” by Gayl Jones


‘Covered With Night,’ by Nicole Eustace, and ‘Cuba: An American History,’ by Ada Ferrer

Eustace’s book, a finalist for the National Book Award, explores how the 1722 killing of an Indigenous hunter profoundly influenced the American justice system.

Spanning more than 500 years, Ferrer’s account traces Cuba’s colonial history, revolutions and cultural shifts, with a focus on its relationship with the United States.

Finalist: “Until Justice Be Done: America’s First Civil Rights Movement, From the Revolution to Reconstruction,” by Kate Masur


‘Chasing Me to My Grave: An Artist’s Memoir of the Jim Crow South,’ by Winfred Rembert, as told to Erin I. Kelly

This memoir, which was told to a Tufts University philosopher, blends Rembert’s life story with his artwork. In images and in Rembert’s own words before he died in March last year, the narrative recounts his life in the Jim Crow-era Deep South, his close escape from an attempted lynching in Georgia, his time in prison working on chain gangs and his late-in-life discovery of his artistic talent.

Finalists: “Pessoa: A Biography,” by Richard Zenith; “The Doctors Blackwell: How Two Pioneering Sisters Brought Medicine to Women — and Women to Medicine,” by Janice P. Nimura


‘frank: sonnets,’ by Diane Seuss

Seuss has described this collection, her fifth, as a memoir composed of sonnets, with poems that touch on death, birth, loss and addiction. The collection also won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the PEN/Voelcker Award.

Finalists: “Refractive Africa: Ballet of the Forgotten,” by Will Alexander; “Yellow Rain,” by Mai Der Vang


‘Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival & Hope in an American City,’ by Andrea Elliott

Elliott’s intimately reported book expands on her acclaimed 2013 series for the Times about Dasani Coates, a homeless New York schoolgirl, and her family. In addition to a portrait of the family, it’s about a city and country that have repeatedly failed to address the issues of poverty and addiction.

Finalists: “Home, Land, Security: Deradicalization and the Journey Back From Extremism,” by Carla Power; “The Family Roe: An American Story,” by Joshua Prager


‘Fat Ham,’ by James Ijames

A comedic riff on “Hamlet,” set at a barbecue, this play is about a Black, gay, Southern man whose father’s ghost urges him to avenge his death. The Wilma Theater in Philadelphia streamed a virtual production last year; the first in-person production is set to begin previews at the Public Theater in New York on Thursday.

Finalists: “Kristina Wong, Sweatshop Overlord,” by Kristina Wong; “Selling Kabul,” by Sylvia Khoury


‘Voiceless Mass,’ by Raven Chacon

This site-specific work, for organ and ensemble, was commissioned for the group Present Music’s Thanksgiving concert in Milwaukee. Chacon, a member of the Navajo Nation, has said he makes a point not to present his art on that holiday but made an exception. The piece, however, was fitting for the occasion, and the church in which it premiered: It is an exploration of gathering spaces, their history and the land they occupy. It considers, Chacon wrote, “the futility of giving voice to the voiceless, when ceding space is never an option for those in power.”

Finalists: “Seven Pillars,” by Andy Akiho; “with eyes the color of time,” by Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti

(Published 10 May 2022, 03:32 IST)

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