Criminal justice, race, pandemic journalism dominates 2021 Pulitzers

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The Pulitzer Prize Board announced its 2021 Pulitzer Prize winners Friday with all but four of the 16 awards for journalism given to work covering race, COVID-19 or criminal justice issues.

“The Year 2020 was unlike any other in the history of journalism. The nation’s news organizations faced the complexity of sequentially covering a global pandemic of racial reckoning and a bitterly contested presidential election,” said Pulitzer Prize Board Co-Chair Mindy Marqués during the virtual announcement of this year’s winners.

Several Pulitzers recognized reporting on race and the events surrounding the murder of George Floyd including a special citation given to Darnella Frazier, who recorded the crime.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune won a breaking news reporting award and The Associated Press won a breaking news photography award for their work surrounding Floyd’s murder.

In Virginia, Richmond Times-Dispatch columnist Michael Paul Williams won for his commentary on Richmond’s dismantling of the city’s white supremacy monuments and Runner’s World freelancer Mitchell Jackson, won a feature writing Pulitzer for documenting the killing of Ahmaud Arbery.

COVID-19 reporting also generated several Pulitzers including a public service award for The New York Times, an explanatory reporting honor for Ed Yong of The Atlantic, and a feature photography award for Associated Press photographer Emilio Morenatti’s work in Spain.

Reporters covering criminal justice issues not directly related to the Floyd murder were also honored.

Two reporters at Florida’s Tampa Bay Times won a local reporting Pulitzer for stories about a sheriff’s secretive intelligence operation and a national reporting Pulitzer went to an investigation into K-9 units by The Marshall Project, Alabama Media Group, The Indianapolis Star and the Invisible Institute.

The board also awarded three Reuters reporters an explanatory reporting Pulitzer for detailing how the legal doctrine of “qualified immunity” shields police from being prosecuted for using excessive force.

The coverage of other issues was also recognized by the Pulitzers this year.

Three BuzzFeed News reporters won an international reporting Pulitzer for their work identifying the Chinese government’s infrastructure used to detain Muslims.

Also Nadja Drost, a freelance contributor to The California Sunday Magazine won a feature writing Pulitzer for documenting a group of immigrants traveling through the Darién Gap, the largely lawless section of undeveloped jungle that connects Colombia and Panama.

Four NPR reporters were given an audio reporting Pulitzer for an examination of gun rights activists and four Boston Globe reporters were awarded an investigative reporting Pulitzer for covering a breakdown in systems state governments use to manage information about dangerous truck drivers.

Tags Coronavirus COVID-19 George Floyd death Pulitzer Prizes
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