May 4, 2020

The winners of the 2020 Pulitzer Prizes were announced in atypical fashion Monday afternoon.

Usually held at Columbia University in New York City, due to the coronavirus pandemic this year’s Pulitzer announcement took place in Pulitzer administrator Dana Canedy’s living room and being livestreamed via YouTube.

The Pulitzers are generally regarded as the highest honor that U.S.-based journalists and organizations 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:

“The Pulitzers once again remind us that sometimes a little guy — one journalist, a small newsroom, even a curious tipster — can land a strong blow against systemic abuse, neglect or injustice in our communities. The stories we celebrate not only enlighten, but they also help us engage. An enduring theme of American journalism is that it helps move us off the sidelines, get involved, demand action. In these confusing times of crisis, it’s useful to remember that journalism is part of the democracy tool kit, and we need not feel powerless.”

Here are the 2020 Pulitzer Prize winners:

Breaking News Reporting

Awarded to the staff of The (Louisville, Kentucky) Courier-Journal for coverage of hundreds of last-minute pardons from Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin

Finalists

Investigative Reporting

Awarded to Brian M. Rosenthal of The New York Times for an investigation of New York City’s taxi industry that revealed predatory loans that took advantage of vulnerable drivers

Finalists

Explanatory Reporting

Awarded to the staff of The Washington Post for a series that showed the effects of extreme temperatures on the planet

Finalists

Read more about The Washington Post’s win and how reporting about climate change was a big winner in this year’s awards.

Local Reporting

Awarded to the staff of The Baltimore Sun for reporting on a financial relationship between Baltimore’s mayor and a public hospital system that her office oversaw

Finalists

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National Reporting

Two organizations won the national reporting award this year.

  1. Awarded to T. Christian Miller, Megan Rose and Robert Faturechi of ProPublica for an investigation of a series of accidents in America’s 7th Fleet
  2. Awarded to Dominic Gates, Steve Miletich, Mike Baker and Lewis Kamb of The Seattle Times for coverage that exposed design flaws in Boeing’s 737 Max

Finalist

International Reporting

Awarded to the staff of The New York Times for a series of stories that expose Russian President Vladimir Putin’s predatory regime

Finalists

Feature Writing

Awarded to Ben Taub of The New Yorker for a story on a Guantánamo Bay guard’s growing friendship with a captive who was tortured and deprived of his freedom

Finalists

Commentary

Awarded to Nikole Hannah-Jones of The New York Times for a personal essay that opened the 1619 Project, which viewed America’s origins through the lens of enslaved Africans

Finalists

Read more about Nikole Hannah-Jones’ essay and this year’s commentary winners here.

Criticism

Awarded to Christopher Knight of the Los Angeles Times for a critique of the overhaul of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Finalists

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Editorial Writing

Awarded to Jeffery Gerritt of the Palestine (Texas) Herald-Press for editorials that exposed how inmates died in a small county jail while they were awaiting trial

Finalists

Editorial Cartoons

Awarded to Barry Blitt of The New Yorker for his watercolor style and gentle caricatures of the personalities and policies that come from the Trump White House

Finalists

Read more about this year’s editorial cartoon winners here.

Breaking News Photography

Awarded to the photography staff of Reuters for photographs of the Hong Kong protests

Finalists

Feature Photography

Awarded to Channi Anand, Mukhtar Khan and Dar Yasin of the Associated Press for images showing life in the contested Kashmir as India revoked its independence

Finalists

Audio Reporting

Awarded to This American Life, with Molly O’Toole of the Los Angeles Times and Emily Green, a freelancer for Vice News, for “The Out Crowd,” a look at the personal impact of the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy

Finalists

  • Nigel Poor, Earlonne Woods and Rahsaan Thomas for “Ear Hustle,” a look at life behind the bars from inmates at San Quentin State Prison
  • Andrew Beck Grace, Chip Brantley, Graham Smith, Nicole Beemsterboer and Robert Little of NPR for “White Lies,” a podcast about an infamous murder from the Civil Rights era

Read more about This American Life’s win here.

Public Service

Awarded to the Anchorage Daily News, with contributions from ProPublica, for a series on small towns in Alaska that lack police protection

Finalists

Read more about the Anchorage Daily News’ reporting on law enforcement here.

Special Citation

The Pulitzer Prize Board awarded a special citation to Ida B. Wells, an early pioneer of investigative journalism and civil rights icon. The Board will also bequest at least $50,000 in support of Wells’ mission. More details will be announced at a later date.

Read more about Ida B. Wells here.

Correction: The Courier-Journal is in Louisville, Kentucky, not Lexington, Kentucky. We regret moving the publication 75 miles to the east.

Ren LaForme is Poynter’s interim managing editor and digital tools reporter. He can be reached at ren@poynter.org or on Twitter at @itsren.

More Pulitzer coverage from Poynter

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Ren LaForme is the Managing Editor of Poynter.org. He was previously Poynter's digital tools reporter, chronicling tools and technology for journalists, and a producer for…
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  • Congratulations to all the winners!