DemDaily: The 2020 Pulitzer Prize Winners

May 19, 2020

The winners of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize were announced earlier this month, recognizing excellence in newspaper, magazine and online journalism, literature, and musical composition in the United States.

Founded in 1917 at the bequest of newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer, the award is considered our country's most prestigious recognition of accomplishment in journalism and the arts.

"The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them." -- Ida B. Wells, Journalist

JOURNALISM
Category Winner Body of Work
Breaking News Reporting
For its rapid coverage of hundreds of last-minute pardons by Kentucky's governor, showing how the process was marked by opacity, racial disparities and violations of legal norms.
Investigative Reporting

Brian M. Rosenthal, The New York Times

For an exposé of New York City's taxi industry that showed how lenders profited from predatory loans that shattered the lives of vulnerable drivers, reporting that ultimately led to state and federal investigations and sweeping reforms.
Explanatory Reporting

Staff of The Washington Post

For a groundbreaking series that showed with scientific clarity the dire effects of extreme temperatures on the planet.
Local Reporting

Staff of The Baltimore Sun

 

For illuminating, impactful reporting on a lucrative, undisclosed financial relationship between the city's mayor and the public hospital system she helped to oversee.
National Reporting
T. Christian Miller, Megan Rose and Robert Faturechi of ProPublica
For their investigation into America's 7th Fleet after a series of deadly naval accidents in the Pacific.
National Reporting
Dominic Gates, Steve Miletich, Mike Baker and Lewis Kamb of  The Seattle Times
For groundbreaking stories that exposed design flaws in the Boeing 737 MAX that led to two deadly crashes and revealed failures in government oversight.
International Reporting

Staff of The New York Times

For a set of enthralling stories, reported at great risk, exposing the predations of Vladimir Putin's regime.

Ben Taub of The New Yorker

For a devastating account of a man who was kidnapped, tortured and deprived of his liberty for more than a decade at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, blending on-the-ground reporting and lyrical prose to offer a nuanced perspective on America's wider war on terror.

Category Winner Body of Work

Nikole Hannah-Jones of The New York Times

For a sweeping, provocative and personal essay for the ground-breaking 1619 Project, which seeks to place the enslavement of Africans at the center of America's story, prompting public conversation about the nation's founding and evolution.

Christopher Knight of the Los Angeles Times

For work demonstrating extraordinary community service by a critic, applying his expertise and enterprise to critique a proposed overhaul of the L.A. County Museum of Art and its effect on the institution's mission.
Jeffery Gerritt of the Palestine Herald Press (Texas)
For editorials that exposed how pre-trial inmates died horrific deaths in a small Texas county jail-reflecting a rising trend across the state-and courageously took on the local sheriff and judicial establishment, which tried to cover up these needless tragedies.
Barry Blitt, contributor,
The New Yorker
For work that skewers the personalities and policies emanating from the Trump White House with deceptively sweet watercolor style and seemingly gentle caricatures.
Photography Staff of Reuters
For wide-ranging and illuminating photographs of Hong Kong as citizens protested infringement of their civil liberties and defended the region's autonomy by the Chinese government.
Channi Anand, Mukhtar Khan and Dar Yasin of the Associated Press For striking images captured during a communications blackout in Kashmir depicting life in the contested territory as India stripped it of its semi-autonomy.
Audio Reporting
Staff ofThis American Life with Molly O'Toole of theLos Angeles Times and Emily Green, freelancer, Vice News For "The Out Crowd," revelatory, intimate journalism that illuminates the personal impact of the Trump Administration's "Remain in Mexico" policy.
Public Service
Anchorage Daily News with contributions from ProPublica
For a riveting series that revealed that a third of Alaska's villages had no police protection, took authorities to task for decades of neglect, and spurred an influx of money and legislative changes.

"Freedom of conscience, of education, or speech, of assembly are among the very fundamentals of our democracy and all of them would be nullified should freedom of the press ever be successfully challenged." -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

LETTERS, DRAMA & MUSIC
Category Winner Body of Work
Drama
Michael R. Jackson
A metafictional musical that tracks the creative process of an artist transforming issues of identity, race, and sexuality that once pushed him to the margins of the cultural mainstream into a meditation on universal human fears and insecurities.
History A masterfully researched meditation on reparations based on the remarkable story of a 19th century woman who survived kidnapping and re-enslavement to sue her captor.
Biography
Sontag: Her Life and Work, by Benjamin Moser (Ecco)
An authoritatively constructed work told with pathos and grace, that captures the writer's genius and humanity alongside her addictions, sexual ambiguities and volatile enthusiasms.
Poetry The Tradition, by Jericho Brown (Copper Canyon Press) A collection of masterful lyrics that combine delicacy with historical urgency in their loving evocation of bodies vulnerable to hostility and violence.
General Nonfiction
The Undying: Pain, Vulnerability, Mortality, Medicine, Art, Time, Dreams, Data, Exhaustion, Cancer, and Care, by Anne Boyer (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
An elegant and unforgettable narrative about the brutality of illness and the capitalism of cancer care in America.
General Nonfiction
The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America, by Greg Grandin (Metropolitan Books)
A sweeping and beautifully written book that probes the American myth of boundless expansion and provides a compelling context for thinking about the current political moment.
Music Premiered on June 15, 2019 at the Long Beach Opera, a courageous operatic work, marked by powerful vocal writing and sensitive orchestration, that skillfully transforms a notorious example of contemporary injustice into something empathetic and hopeful. Libretto by Richard Wesley.
Fiction
The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday) A spare and devastating exploration of abuse at a reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida that is ultimately a powerful tale of human perseverance, dignity and redemption.

The Pulitzer Committee also awarded a Special Citation to Ida B. Wells,"For her outstanding and courageous reporting on the horrific and vicious violence against African Americans during the era of lynching." The citation comes with a bequest by the Pulitzer Prize board of at least $50,000 in support of her mission.

Watch 2020 Pulitzer Announcement

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