The Pulitzer Prize Board recognized 14 local news organizations this year, with local news wins in eight of the 15 categories.
Most of the projects focused on social and criminal justice. The Courier-Journal was a finalist in two categories for coverage of the killing of Breonna Taylor, and The Star Tribune netted a win for its coverage of the police murder of George Floyd. 10 of the 17 nominated projects focused on social justice or policing.
The Tampa Bay Times won its third Pulitzer for Local News in the last 10 years for its investigation of the Pasco County Sheriff’s office’s use of computer modeling to identify citizens that it said would be more likely to commit crimes. The award made the Times the most awarded outlet in the Local News category.
Local news coverage of COVID-19 was noticeably absent among this year’s Pulitzer wins. This follows a year when more than 70 local newsrooms closed due to the pandemic.
Here’s a look at all the local finalists:
Public Service Journalism
The Courier-Journal – Louisville, Kentucky (Finalist)
For its unflinching, comprehensive and impactful coverage of the killing of Breonna Taylor and the legacy of systemic racism in the police force and other civic institutions in Louisville, which helped to spur important reforms.
Staff of the Courier-Journal – Louisville, Kentucky (Finalist)
For its exclusive coverage that contradicted police narratives in the killing of Breonna Taylor, and for its sensitive and innovative coverage of the aftermath.
Staff of the Star Tribune — Minneapolis, Minnesota (Winner)
For its urgent, authoritative, and nuanced coverage of the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis and of the reverberations that followed.
Matt Rocheleau, Vernal Coleman, Laura Crimaldi, Evan Allen and Brendan McCarthy of The Boston Globe — Boston, Massachusetts (Winner)
For reporting that uncovered a systematic failure by state governments to share information about dangerous truck drivers that could have kept them off the road, prompting immediate reforms.
Jack Dolan and Brittny Mejia of the Los Angeles Times – Los Angeles, California (Finalist)
For exposing failures in Los Angeles County’s safety-net healthcare system that resulted in months-long wait times for patients, including some who died before getting appointments with specialists.
Staff of The Post and Courier — Charleston, South Carolina (Finalist)
For an ambitious look at how water levels in the city were rising faster than previously thought that also explored the broader social, environmental and regulatory challenges posed by climate change.
Kathleen McGrory and Neil Bedi of the Tampa Bay Times— St. Petersburg, Florida (Winner)
For resourceful, creative reporting that exposed how a powerful and politically connected sheriff built a secretive intelligence operation that harassed residents and used grades and child welfare records to profile schoolchildren.
Staffs of The Marshall Project; AL.com, Birmingham; IndyStar, Indianapolis; and the Invisible Institute, Chicago (Winner)
For a year-long investigation of K-9 units and the damage that police dogs inflict on Americans, including innocent citizens and police officers, prompting numerous statewide reforms.
Nadja Drost, freelance contributor, The California Sunday Magazine (Winner)
For a brave and gripping account of global migration that documents a group’s journey on foot through the Darién Gap, one of the most dangerous migrant routes in the world.
Melinda Henneberger of The Kansas City Star — Kansas City, Missouri (Finalist)
For tenacious and deeply reported columns on failures in the criminal justice system, forcefully arguing how systemic problems and abuses affect the larger community.
Roy S. Johnson of the Alabama Media Group — Birmingham, Alabama (Finalist)
For evocative columns on race and remembrance written with style, urgency, and moral clarity.
Michael Paul Williams of the Richmond Times-Dispatch — Richmond, Virginia (Winner)
For penetrating and historically insightful columns that guided Richmond, a former capital of the Confederacy, through the painful and complicated process of dismantling the city’s monuments to white supremacy.
Robert Greene of the Los Angeles Times — Los Angeles, California (Winner)
For editorials on policing, bail reform, prisons and mental health that clearly and holistically examined the Los Angeles criminal justice system.
The Boston Globe — Boston, Massachusetts (Finalist)
For editorials that addressed a controversial local zoning fight, centering the legacy of restrictive housing laws in America’s ongoing conversation about equity, inclusion and opportunity.
Lisa Hagen (WABE, Atlanta, GA), Chris Haxel (KCUR, Kansas City, MO), Graham Smith and Robert Little of National Public Radio (Winner)
For an investigative series on “no compromise” gun rights activists that illuminated the profound differences and deepening schism between American conservatives.
Staffs of the Invisible Institute, Chicago; The Intercept and Topic Studios (Finalist)
For “Somebody,” a dogged and searing investigation of the murder of a young Black man in Chicago and the institutional indifference surrounding it.