June 11, 2021

Among the winners of this year’s Pulitzer Prizes, there’s likely going to be coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, which dominated our lives and news cycles for more than a year. 

Coverage of pandemics, epidemics and public health crises have won Pulitzers for decades. Here’s a collection of some of that work over the years. 

1986, Commentary, Jimmy Breslin, New York Daily News, “for columns which consistently champion ordinary citizens.”

1988, Feature Photography, Michel du Cille, Miami Herald, “for photographs portraying the decay and subsequent rehabilitation of a housing project overrun by the drug crack.”

1988, Feature Writing, Jacqui Banaszynski, St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch, “for her moving series about the life and death of an AIDS victim in a rural farm community.”

1996, Explanatory Journalism, Laurie Garrett, Newsday, “for her courageous reporting from Zaire on the Ebola virus outbreak there.”

1997, National Reporting, Staff of The Wall Street Journal “for its coverage of the struggle against AIDS in all of its aspects, the human, the scientific and the business, in light of promising treatments for the disease.”

2000, International Reporting, Mark Schoofs, The Village Voice “for his provocative and enlightening series on the AIDS crisis in Africa.”

2001, Investigative Reporting, David Willman, Los Angeles Times, “for his pioneering exposé of seven unsafe prescription drugs that had been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and an analysis of the policy reforms that had reduced the agency’s effectiveness.”

2012, Investigative Reporting, Michael J. Berens and Ken Armstrong, The Seattle Times, “for their investigation of how a little known governmental body in Washington State moved vulnerable patients from safer pain-control medication to methadone, a cheaper but more dangerous drug, coverage that prompted statewide health warnings.” 

2015, International Reporting, The New York Times staff, “for courageous front-line reporting and vivid human stories on Ebola in Africa, engaging the public with the scope and details of the outbreak while holding authorities accountable.”

2015, Feature Photography, Daniel Berehulak, freelance photographer, The New York Times, “for his gripping, courageous photographs of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.”

2017, Investigative Reporting, Eric Eyre, Charleston Gazette-Mail, “for courageous reporting, performed in the face of powerful opposition, to expose the flood of opioids flowing into depressed West Virginia counties with the highest overdose death rates in the country.”

2018, Local Reporting, Staff of the Cincinnati Enquirer, “for a riveting and insightful narrative and video documenting seven days of greater Cincinnati’s heroin epidemic, revealing how the deadly addiction has ravaged families and communities.”

More from Poynter

Here are the winners of the 2021 Pulitzer PrizesWhat journalism students can learn from this year’s Pulitzer Prizes

Behind the Pulitzers: A look into the inner workings of journalism’s Super Bowl

A freelancer who wrote a Runner’s World essay on Ahmaud Arbery’s killing has won a Pulitzer Prize in Feature Writing

California Sunday Magazine closed last year. It just won a Pulitzer.

A podcast about guns, God and Facebook awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Audio Reporting

Coronavirus and race (and not Trump) dominate the 2021 Pulitzer Prizes

An essay about his mustache and much, much more propels The New York Times’ Wesley Morris to the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism


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Kristen Hare teaches local journalists the critical skills they need to serve and cover their communities as Poynter's local news faculty member. Before joining faculty…
Kristen Hare

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