The Pulitzers are among the most prestigious awards in US journalism.
In a reflection of the forces reshaping the media world, the turmoil-ridden Philadelphia Inquirer won in the public service category for exposing pervasive violence in the city’s schools, while David Wood earned a Pulitzer in national reporting for a relative newcomer, The Huffington Post, for stories about the suffering endured by American troops severely wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It was only the second Pulitzer ever awarded for reporting that appeared online only.
Another Pulitzer for investigative reporting was awarded to The Seattle Times for a series about accidental methadone overdoses among patients with chronic pain.
The New York Times won two prizes. David Kocieniewski was honored in the explanatory reporting category for a series on how wealthy people and corporations use loopholes to avoid taxes. And Jeffrey Gettleman received the award for international reporting for his coverage of famine and conflict in East Africa. Sig Gissler, administrator of the prizes, said the winners in this year’s 96th annual competition show that journalism is still a “vibrant force” as a watchdog for the public.
The AP’s series of stories - available online at http://apne.ws/IrNyPk - showed how New York police, with the help of a CIA official, created an aggressive surveillance program to gather intelligence on Muslim neighborhoods, businesses and houses of worship. It was the 50th Pulitzer won by the news organization.
The articles showed that police systematically listened in on sermons, hung out at cafes and other public places, infiltrated colleges and photographed people as part of a broad effort to prevent terrorist attacks. Individuals and groups were monitored even when there was no evidence they were linked to terrorism.
The series, which began in August, was by Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Eileen Sullivan and Chris Hawley. The stories prompted protests, a demand from 34 members of Congress for a federal investigation, and an internal inquiry by the CIA’s inspector general. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and Mayor Michael Bloomberg have defended the program as a thoroughly legal tool for keeping the city safe. The four reporters were toasted by scores of colleagues gathered in the newsroom of AP world headquarters in New York.
“We kept reporting things that no one in the city of New York knew about,” said AP’s executive editor, Kathleen Carroll. “That’s what I’m most proud of.”
The AP reporters praised their editors for sticking by them and pushing to extend the investigation, even in the face of some high-level criticism in New York City. “We came under relentless attack,” Goldman said. “Some people thought they could intimidate us and the AP - and they were wrong.”
A year after the Pulitzer judges found no entry worthy of the prize for breaking news, The Tuscaloosa News of Alabama won the award for coverage of a deadly tornado. By blending traditional reporting with the use of social media, the newspaper provided real-time updates and helped locate missing people, while producing in-depth print coverage despite a power outage that forced the paper to publish at a plant 50 miles (80 kilometers) away.
The twister hit just after the news staff had had a session on how to use social media to cover the news, city editor Katherine Lee recalled.
“I think we won because the tornado hit where we live, and we all felt a responsibility to do this well, to tell our story well -- about how people came together to help total strangers,” Lee said.
The judges declined to award a prize for editorial writing. At The Patriot-News, Sara Ganim, a police and courts reporter, won for “courageously revealing and adeptly covering the explosive Penn State sex scandal,” the Pulitzer judges wrote. At 24, she is one of the youngest journalists ever to win a Pulitzer; at least one prior winner, Jackie Crosby of the Macon Telegraph and News of Georgia, was 23.
Investigation into allegations
Ganim broke the news of the grand jury investigation into allegations against former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. She was also the first to report his indictment on charges of molesting several boys involved in a charity he ran. Sandusky has denied the allegations.
2012 Pulitzer winners in journalism and arts at a glance
Public service: The Philadelphia Inquirer Breaking news reporting: The Tuscaloosa (Ala.)
Investigative reporting: Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Eileen Sullivan and Chris Hawley of The Associated Press, and Michael J. Berens and Ken Armstrong of The Seattle Times
Explanatory reporting: David Kocieniewski of The New York Times
Local reporting: Sara Ganim and members of The Patriot-News Staff, Harrisburg, Pa.
National reporting: David Wood of The Huffington Post
International reporting: Jeffrey Gettleman of The New York Times
Feature writing: Eli Sanders of The Stranger, a Seattle weekly
Commentary: Mary Schmich of the Chicago Tribune
Criticism: Wesley Morris of The Boston Globe
Editorial writing: No award
Editorial cartooning: Matt Wuerker of Politico
Breaking news photography: Massoud Hossaini of Agence France-Presse
Feature photography: Craig F. Walker of The Denver Post
Fiction: No award
Drama: “Water by the Spoonful” by Quiara Alegría Hudes
History: “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention” by the late Manning Marable (Viking)
Biography: “George F. Kennan: An American Life” by John Lewis Gaddis (The Penguin Press)
Poetry: “Life on Mars” by Tracy K. Smith (Graywolf Press)
General nonfiction: “The Swerve: How the World Became Modern” by Stephen Green-blatt (W.W. Norton and Co.)