Sun Sentinel Wins Public Service Pulitzer for Parkland Shooting Coverage

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Sun Sentinel Wins Public Service Pulitzer for Parkland Shooting Coverage

Pulitzer Prizes were awarded on Monday to news organizations that uncovered instances of malfeasance and outright fraud in President Trump’s financial past, recognizing journalists’ perseverance in the face of the president’s ever-sharper attacks on a free press.

The New York Times received the explanatory reporting prize for an 18-month investigation that revealed how the future president and his relatives avoided paying roughly half a billion dollars’ worth of taxes. The Wall Street Journal won the national reporting award for disclosing clandestine payoffs made by the president’s associates before the 2016 election to two women who had alleged affairs with Mr. Trump.

Threats to journalists, foreign and domestic, provided a backdrop for this year’s prizes, which also honored reporters forced to cover deadly tragedies in their hometowns and, in one case, their own newsroom. In the cultural realm, the Pulitzers recognized the singer Aretha Franklin for her contributions to American music, the first special citation granted to a woman.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel won the prize for public service, considered the most prestigious of the Pulitzers, for documenting the massacre of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in February. The paper’s in-depth articles revealed a series of failures by local officials and law enforcement that, the paper wrote, contributed to the loss of life.

“Feeling overwhelmed and grateful,” a Sun Sentinel reporter, Scott Travis, wrote on Twitter after learning of the honor. “But also sad that we won the greatest journalism award — the Pulitzer — because of a tragedy that never should have happened.”

[Here’s the full list of winners.]

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette won for breaking news coverage of a gunman’s spree at the Tree of Life synagogue in October, where 11 people died. The Pulitzer board also recognized The Capital Gazette of Annapolis, Md., where five employees were killed in a shooting in June, with a special citation that included a $100,000 bequest. Dana Canedy, the awards’ administrator, cited The Capital Gazette’s “unflagging commitment to covering news at a time of unspeakable grief.”

In honoring The Sun Sentinel, The Post-Gazette and The Capital Gazette, the Pulitzer board underlined the importance of local journalism at a moment when regional papers are struggling to survive. First given in 1917, the Pulitzer Prizes are presented annually by Columbia University for excellence in journalism and letters.

Invoking the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, The Washington Post columnist killed in Turkey by Saudi assassins, Ms. Canedy praised this year’s honorees for a willingness to speak truth to power.

“This year’s winning work reflects yet again a steely resolve in upholding the principles of this noble profession,” Ms. Canedy said.

The Times’s examination of Mr. Trump’s family finances, by the journalists David Barstow, Susanne Craig and Russ Buettner, drew on tens of thousands of pages of confidential records and previously undisclosed tax returns. The award was the fourth Pulitzer win for Mr. Barstow, a record for a reporter. (The news photographer Carol Guzy, the poet Robert Frost, the playwright Eugene O’Neill and the playwright and biographer Robert Sherwood have also won four prizes.)

The Times won in the category of editorial writing, for essays by Brent Staples that grappled with questions of race, slavery, and memory in communities across the country. In accepting his award in The Times newsroom on Monday, Mr. Staples, who joined the paper’s editorial board in 1990, thanked his great-great-grandmother, who was born into slavery, saying, “I was channeling my family story.”

The complexities of race and class figured in many of the prizewinning works.

The award for drama went to Jackie Sibblies Drury for “Fairview,” a play that challenges viewers to confront their prejudices, and which The Times critic Ben Brantley called “dazzling and ruthless.”

“Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom,” an examination of the civil rights pioneer by David W. Blight, won the history prize, and the biography award went to Jeffrey C. Stewart for “The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke,” a portrait of the Harlem Renaissance patron.

Darrin Bell, a freelancer artist, became the first African-American to win for editorial cartooning, for a series published in The Washington Post on the experiences of disenfranchised groups under the Trump administration.

It was one of three prizes awarded on Monday to The Post, including feature photography — for Lorenzo Tugnoli’s pictures of a famine in Yemen — and criticism, for essays by the paper’s nonfiction book critic, Carlos Lozada.

The ProPublica journalist Hannah Dreier received the feature writing award, for capturing the plight of Salvadoran immigrants caught in a federal crackdown on MS-13 gang members on Long Island; one of her pieces was copublished by The New York Times Magazine. The staff of Reuters won the breaking news photography prize for a visual narrative of migrants traveling toward the United States border.

“Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom,” by David W. Blight, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for history.CreditSimon & Schuster, via Associated Press

The Los Angeles Times won the investigative reporting prize for revealing accusations of sexual abuse against a gynecologist at the University of Southern California. The reporting, by Matt Hamilton, Harriet Ryan and Paul Pringle, led in part to the resignation of the university’s president.

Tony Messenger of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch received the commentary prize for columns about rural Missourians faced with unaffordable fines for minor offenses. The Advocate, of Baton Rouge, La., received the prize for local reporting for a critical examination of Louisiana’s criminal justice system.

In the international reporting category, the year’s winners included Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, Reuters journalists imprisoned for more than a year in Myanmar. Their reporting, on human rights violations against Rohingya Muslims in the Southeast Asian nation, shared the prize with coverage by The Associated Press of atrocities in Yemen.

The journalist Eliza Griswold won the nonfiction writing prize for “Amity and Prosperity: One Family and the Fracturing of America,” the story of an Appalachian family disrupted by an oil fracking company. The fiction prize went to Richard Powers for “The Overstory,” a narrative that entwines the lives of humans and trees.

Ellen Reid won the music prize for her operatic work “p ris m,” and the poetry prize went to Forrest Gander for “Be With,” a collection of meditations on grief and loss.

At the start of Monday’s ceremony, Ms. Canedy recognized an entry that had not won: 17 obituaries of slain Parkland students and faculty, written by the staff of the school’s student publication, The Eagle Eye.

“These budding journalists remind us of the media’s unwavering commitment to bearing witness,” Ms. Canedy said, adding that the students’ work “should give us all hope for the future of journalism in this great democracy.”

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