The winners of the 2019 Pulitzer Prizes were announced at Columbia University in New York City on Monday. Pulitzers are regarded as the highest honor a journalist can receive.
Poynter President Neil Brown is a member of the Pulitzer Prize Board. Brown declined to discuss last week’s board deliberations, but offered:
“What comes through in this year’s prizes, including the work of the finalists, is tenacious accountability journalism,” Brown said. “Journalists helped change bad laws, made local leaders more accountable to keep our kids safe, and put eyes on horrific abuse and injustice in places far and near. It’s all the more inspiring because it comes as journalists are under direct threat and news companies must work harder than ever to find the financial means needed to keep this vital work coming.”
The awards are:
- ProPublica for its coverage of migrant family separation at the border of the United States and Mexico, notable for its audio of detained children
- The Washington Post for its coverage of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi-born journalist and Washington Post contributor, in Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Turkey
Breaking News Reporting
Awarded to the staff of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for its compassionate coverage of the massacre at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue
- The staff of the Chico Enterprise-Record (in collaboration with the Bay Area News Group) for coverage of California’s Camp Fire, a massive California wildfire that destroyed more than 18,000 buildings and killed 86 people
- The staff of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel for its multiplatform coverage of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting
Awarded to Harriet Ryan, Matt Hamilton and Paul Pringle at the Los Angeles Times for reporting on a University of Southern California gynecologist who was accused of violating young women for nearly 30 years
- Kathleen McGrory and Neil Bedi of the Tampa Bay Times for powerful reporting and data analysis that revealed a startling number of fatalities after a Johns Hopkins takeover of a pediatric heart treatment facility
Awarded to David Barstow, Susanne Craig and Russ Buettner of The New York Times for an 18-month investigation of President Donald Trump’s finances that exposed the president’s persistent tax dodging and contradicted his claims of self-made wealth
- Kyra Gurney, Nicholas Nehamas, Jay Weaver and Jim Wyss of the Miami Herald for an explanation of a criminal operation in which South American gold mining for American precious metals and technology led to international money laundering, environmental destruction, child exploitation, drug trafficking and more
- Aaron Glantz and Emmanuel Martinez of Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting (in collaboration with the Associated Press, PRX and PBS NewsHour) for an analysis of mortgage data that found evidence of discrimination in the banking system that has shut out millions of people of color from home ownership in metro areas across the country
- Staff of The Washington Post for data analysis and chilling storytelling that showed the vast number of unsolved homicide cases in major cities across the country
- Barbara Laker, Wendy Ruderman, Dylan Purcell and Jessica Griffin of The Philadelphia Inquirer for a scientific investigation and storytelling that showed environmental toxins in Philadelphia school buildings that sickened children in classrooms
- Brandon Stahl, Jennifer Bjorhus, MaryJo Webster and Renée Jones Schneider of The (Minneapolis) Star Tribune for a series that exposed failures in Minnesota’s investigations and prosecutions of rape cases
Awarded to the staff of The Wall Street Journal for uncovering President Donald Trump’s secret payoffs, during his campaign, to women who claimed to have had affairs with him
- The staff of the Associated Press for coverage of the Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant families at the U.S./Mexico border and exposing a government overwhelmed by caring for and tracking thousands of immigrant children
- The staff of The New York Times (and Carole Cadwalladr of The Guardian and The Observer) for reporting on how Facebook and other tech companies enabled the spread of misinformation, failed consumer privacy and allowed Cambridge Analytica to steal 50 million Facebook users’ private information
Two prizes were awarded in the International Reporting category this year.
- Awarded to Maggie Michael, Maad al-Zikry and Nariman El-Mofty of the Associated Press for a yearlong series about the atrocities of the war in Yemen, including the deployment of child soldiers, torture of prisoners and theft of food aid.
- Awarded to Wa Lone, Kyaw Soe Oo and a team from Reuters for exposing military and Buddhist villagers responsible for the systematic removal and murder of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar (Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested and imprisoned by Myanmar authorities for their coverage.)
- Deanna Pan and Jennifer Berry Hawes of The Post and Courier in Charleston, South Carolina, for an examination of a 14-year-old black boy who was wrongfully convicted and executed for killing two white girls that led to his exoneration, 70 years after his death
- Elizabeth Bruenig of The Washington Post for reflections on a teenage survivor of sexual assault who was exiled from Bruenig’s West Texas hometown
Awarded to Tony Messenger of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for a series of columns about how poor Missourians are charged for time spent in jail or on probation and owe more money than their fines or court costs
- Caitlin Flanagan of The Atlantic for columns that explore the intersection of gender and politics
- Melinda Henneberger of The Kansas City Star for examining sexism and misogyny within the Kansas City Chiefs, in the governor’s office and the Catholic Church
- Manohla Dargis of The New York Times for film criticism that examined the impact of movies inside and outside the theater
- Jill Lepore of The New Yorker for explorations that combined nuance and rigor about varied subjects
- The editorial board of The Advocate (Baton Rouge, Louisiana) for editorials that led voters to abolish a Jim Crow-era law that created a discriminatory conviction system
- The editorial board of the Capital Gazette (Annapolis, Maryland) for deeply personal editorials following a newsroom shooting that left five of the writers’ colleagues dead
- Ruben Bolling (pseudonym of Ken Fisher), freelancer, for pointed political commentary and satire about the Trump administration
- Rob Rogers, freelancer, for illustrations with cultural and historical references with a keen eye for hypocrisy and injustice
Breaking News Photography
Awarded to the photography staff of Reuters for a visual narrative about the urgency and desperation of migrants as they traveled to the United States from Central and South America
- Noah Berger, John Locher and Ringo H.W. Chiu of the Associated Press for devastating images of the extraordinary spread of wildfires in California
- Photography staff of the Associated Press for images of the clash between Palestinians and Israelis in the Gaza Strip
- Craig F. Walker of The Boston Globe for photography and visual storytelling about a young boy living with a developmental disability
- Maggie Stebler and Lynn Johnson of National Geographic for a photo narrative that provides an intimate look at a young face transplant recipient
This year, the Pulitzer Prize Board also offered two special citations.
The Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, will receive a special citation for its heroic ability to continue to publish after a shooter entered its newsroom and killed five newsroom staffers. The Pulitzer Foundation will make a $100,000 donation to the Gazette to expand its journalism.
The board also honored the career and work of singer, songwriter, pianist and civil rights activist Aretha Franklin, who died Aug. 16. Artists such as Bob Dylan and Hank Williams have been honored with similar awards in the past.